New Florida PIP Law: A Victory for the Car Insurance Companies
Port St. Lucie injury attorney discusses Florida’s new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law HB 119, passed by a slim margin in the Florida Senate on March 10, 2012. The new PIP law is considered a victory for insurance companies as there are now several provisions placing limits on the amount of PIP benefits, litigation and monies paid out for claims that are the result of auto accidents.
Auto insurance companies believe that personal injury protection lawsuits are the cause of insurance rates on the climb. Florida is a no-fault state and requires all drivers to carry the basic PIP insurance with limits of $10,000.00 in coverage. However the present law lacks restrictions on types of medical treatments covered or on attorney fee limits. This system is, according to the insurance companies, full of loopholes and flaws and was in need of reform. Their position was that old system allowed for “frivolous medical treatment” and “opportunities for needless litigation”.
What does the new PIP law provide for care accident victims?
This new bill provides strict and rather unfair definitions of what constitutes medical treatments and covered injuries. Under the new PIP law, accident victims must seek medical treatment within an extreme timeline of 14 days (two week) from the date of the accident. Further, your medical treatment is only permitted from specified licensed medical physicians. Acceptable treatment providers include emergency services determined by a physician, osteopath, dentist, physician’s assistant or registered nurse practitioner. Chiropractor visits are now limited to $2,500 and can only be used after a referral from a suitable health care provider.
The new law excludes massage therapists and acupuncturists, which were previously covered under the old PIP law. The severe nature of the new Florida PIP law greatly cuts the funds available for those injured in auto accidents and is troublesome to many consumer protection advocates. The law also greatly limits the types of treatments covered under PIP. Those who seek a more holistic, less intrusive type of treatment are left out all together by the new law, a disturbing reality to many. Florida Auto accident victims will be forced to rely on their health insurance rather than the $10,000 of medical benefits they were previously entitled to receive.
The new bill contains provisions for the reduction of consumer rates, which seems like a victory for the consumers. However the bill brings about a plan for insurers to reduce rates only 10% by October 1, 2013 and 25% by January 1, 2014 or they are to provide a “detailed explanation” as to why the rates were not reduced. The proposed rate reduction does not seem to equal out in policy premiums, a questionable fact which has left many consumer advocates puzzled. As the PIP coverage accounts for a relatively small percentage of a total insurance premium, the 25% reduction is rather insignificant.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you must contact your medical provider within 14 days. Then call Stuart or Port St. Lucie auto accident attorney Leonard S. Villafranco at (772) 288-7338 or (772) 871-6441.