The new Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) statute is coming under fire again. Both the House and Senate are looking at the controversial statute. PIP is the part of your automobile insurance that covers medical payments for the owner of the vehicle in the event of an accident that results in injury. It also covers any passengers who are in the vehicle if they don’t have their own PIP coverage.
PIP covers the bills regardless of fault, thus the nickname “No-Fault Insurance.” Some members of the Florida legislature are devising ways to do away with the no-fault automobile coverage. They want to put in its place mandatory bodily injury insurance, which covers the owner and driver if they injure another person in an accident. In short, you stop paying for your own injuries, and you start paying for every else you injured.
PIP has been a part of the Florida legal landscape since the 1970s. The reason it was created was to do away with small injury cases. PIP stops personal injury lawyers from suing for small amounts while making sure everyone has the ability to get medical care after an accident, regardless of fault. Critics of PIP have argued that the coverage doesn’t work because too many doctors are trying to defraud the PIP system. These “injury clinic” doctors overbill PIP and cause the system to fail. As a result of insurance fraud, the legislature wants to scrap a system that has worked for almost 40 years to stop frivolous lawsuits.
Last year the PIP statute was revamped to include an emergency medical requirement, which was intended to limit coverage to only $2,500. This would act to stop the over-billing of PIP by doctors who are not a part of standard treatment sought after an accident. The PIP coverage stays at $10,000 for hospitals, ambulances, etc. The new changes also did away with massage and acupuncture coverage. The insurance industry promised to lower insurance rates if the statute was passed. They have not held up their end of the bargain and Governor Scott needs to take them to the task.
Anytime there is a new law some group will be angry and challenge it. There was a group of chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists who were not happy with the new law and challenged it under the Florida Constitution. The court upheld the statute and it looks like it is now going to proceed. Certainly, the numerous court opinions on each small issue in the statute will need to be worked out over time.
Hopefully, politicians will not throw the legitimate hospitals and doctors who need PIP to get paid treating accident victims under the bus. They should not allow their impatience to do away with a statute that helps so many Floridians. The cooler heads are saying, “Let’s see how this new law shakes out before making any knee-jerk reactions.” So, for now, Florida will continue to have PIP and consumers will continue to have medical coverage for injuries caused in auto accidents.
Image courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net by renjith krishnan
Brian F. LaBovick, Esq. is the founder and managing shareholder of LaBovick Law Group, a boutique trial law firm focusing on injury cases throughout the state of Florida. Mr. LaBovick is dedicated to helping victims and protecting their rights within our legal system. He is an award-winning and AV-rated attorney.