Florida is one of ten states that have personal injury protection (no fault) auto insurance. The intention was to provide injured drivers up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage in lieu of establishing fault through the court system. According to Florida Office for Insurance Regulation, the goal was to reduce payment delay for injured drivers, as well as limit the utilization of the court system. In Florida, PIP coverage is required to be purchased by all owners of motor vehicles registered in this state. PIP coverage covers the medical expenses, lost wages or death benefit of an injured person (or deceased person) in an accident regardless of fault.
Under the no-fault system, motorists are required to carry personal-injury protection coverage that includes $10,000 in medical benefits. Before the 2012 law was enacted, average motorists in Florida were paying $180 a year for the personal-injury protection portion of their auto coverage, according to the Office of Insurance Regulation. The state agency recently estimated that the average no-fault annual payment stands around $125 a year.
The 2012 law, considered by many as a last-ditch effort to maintain the no-fault system, set benchmarks for insurers to lower rates on coverage. It also required people involved in crashes to seek treatment within 14 days and allowed up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions, while putting a $2,500 cap on non-emergency conditions.
Gary Farmer, of the Florida Justice Association, predicted that the law will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional as “a slew” of lower-court cases are pending about the law’s cap on benefits, which hasn’t changed since PIP was created 1979. “The fact that the benefit amount has remained static since 1979, combined with the limitation on emergency medical care… frankly the [average] premiums should be well below the $125 mark,” Farmer said. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the law by acupuncturists and massage therapists. The issue during appeals involved whether plaintiffs had legal standing to pursue the challenge.
If the insurance company elects not to pay or cuts off benefits too early, a PIP lawsuit can be filed against the company to continue these benefits. Additionally, if the insurer purposefully or mistakenly does not pay valid claims within 30 days of obtaining notice of them, they are subject to monetary penalties such as interest on the amount owed. Kevin W. Whitehead, Esq., founding partner of Whitehead Law Group, has been practicing in the area of personal injury protection (PIP) for 20 years. His vast knowledge and experience in this complex area of the law is critical and crucial to any client, whether a person or medical care provider, in evaluating any potential PIP claim. Please do not hesitate to immediately contact our office in the event you are injured in a motor vehicle accident so we may assist you.