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PIP Law Still Up In The Air

Florida is home to millions of people, and millions more visit the state each year. All those people help the state become one of the country’s biggest in terms of auto vehicle accidents. In 2012 alone, 468,470 drivers were involved in more than 281,000 accidents on the road – that is an average of an astonishing 770 crashes each day taking place inside Florida. The causes of these accidents vary, from unavoidable factors to issues like drunk driving or distracted driving. No matter what causes them, there’s no question that it’s an issue everyone needs to be somewhat prepared for.

In most states, automobile insurance is a fairly straightforward subject. Drivers are usually required to carry liability insurance at the least, and if they are involved in an accident their insurance will pay for property damage and medical bills if it’s found that they’re at fault. In Florida, this isn’t the case. Florida uses something known as a Personal Injury Protection policy, and although each driver is required to carry it, most agree that it’s not the best system and one that is primarily designed to help insurance companies – not drivers.

The basics of PIP coverage are that it will cover up to $10,000 in medical costs to those injured in an accident. And while that sounds great, there are plenty of problems that experts are pointing out including:

  • $10,000 is the maximum amount it will pay, and many medical bills exceed that in serious automobile accidents.
  • It won’t pay for property damage. All property damage will still have to be paid for out of pocket – something that most people can’t afford to do.
  • PIP only pays for injuries that are diagnosed and noted during the very first visit to a doctor following an accident. If any injuries aren’t noticed then, they won’t be covered.
  • Only certain types of medical professionals can be visited under PIP care.
  • There is a very short timeframe in which an injured person can visit a medical professional for care following their accident.

In other words, it’s very easy for insurance companies to avoid paying anything thanks to PIP, a fact that has left many injured motorists high and dry after an accident. While accident lawyers are often able to assist in getting compensation, the fact that it’s such an uphill battle has led to recent fights in the Florida courts in an effort to change Florida’s insurance laws.

The initial challenge to PIP was brought to the courts by massage therapists and acupuncturists who weren’t covered under the ‘accepted medical providers’ provision of the PIP policy, along with chiropractors who had very limited abilities to treat injured patients under the law. As a result of their initial challenge, Florida State Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued an injunction that prevented the PIP laws from taking effect in the state. However, this injunction was struck down in October of 2012 and now PIP coverage is in full effect in the state.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a permanent part of driving in Florida. Lawmakers are already considering reforms to the current PIP laws and possibly even the removal of it entirely in favor of a different system modeled more closely after those in other states.

Whatever the lawmakers decide, it is important to understand all of your rights if you’ve been injured in an auto accident. We’ve been helping Florida motorists for years, and have a proven history of helping our clients settle for millions each year. We’ve handled more than 10,000 cases and have a combined more than 100 years’ experience in personal injury cases. Contact us now to find out more about PIP law and what your options are.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

PIP Law Still Up In The Air

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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