Car owners residing in Florida for more than 90 days must carry $10,000 in personal injury protection automobile insurance, also known as no-fault, under state law, but it has not been without controversy. Florida became the second state in the country to enact a no-fault auto insurance plan in 1972. Supporters view it as an alternative to suing that compensates injured parties regardless of fault to provide speedy and efficient recovery of medical expenses, disability, lost wages and death benefits.
But the insurance industry and other critics of PIP argue that changes in the law are needed with too many people gaming the system through fraudulent claims, which is driving up insurance rates.
The cry for change seemed to carry the most weight with legislators last year since they enacted House Bill 119, designed to reduce rates by up to 10 by October, and 25 percent by 2014, while cracking down on fraud. Major portions of the law dealing with medical and death benefits went into effect this year.
Enactment of House Bill 119 created several changes that placed limits on an accident victim’s right to recovery including a provision that they must seek qualified medical treatment within 14 days of the crash. Other changes in the law have been halted due to a lawsuit filed by a group of acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors, which led Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to issue a temporary injunction. He ruled that provisions of the law limiting non-emergency medical benefits and chiropractic care to $2,500 and prohibiting plaintiffs from billing PIP insurance are likely unconstitutional because they don’t adequately compensate drivers for giving up their right to sue.
An appeal filed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation placed a temporary ban on portions of the new law on hold, but Lewis reinstated it, deciding that these provisions of the law would not be enforced during the appeal of his ruling, again, based on the constitutional right to access the courts. The state has appealed both of Lewis’ decisions to the court of appeals. It’s still up in the air whether these provisions will ultimately go into effect, but as the Florida No-Fault Law seems to become increasingly complicated, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney to protect your legal rights if you’ve been injured in a car accident due to another’s carelessness. Studies have proven that clients who are represented by attorneys generally receive larger recoveries than people who are not represented. Our experienced Vanguard Attorneys may work on your behalf to reduce the burden of paperwork while helping you pursue the maximum amount of damages to recover from your injuries.
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