Florida's Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws were ostensibly passed both to protect people who got hurt in auto accidents and to lower the cost of insurance. Unfortunately, the PIP protections have caused a lot of trouble for car accident victims, insurance companies and healthcare providers. Dissatisfaction with PIP laws has been steadily growing and this year the Insurance Journal reports that lawmakers even considered repealing the law, although The Current indicates repeal efforts are unlikely to be successful.
Our West Palm Beach injury attorneys know that PIP coverage may not be as comprehensive as it should be for those injured in auto accidents. Understanding your legal rights and getting your bills paid can be very confusing for accident victims, and a lot can go wrong that can result in a PIP claim being denied. Unfortunately, unless or until the laws change and PIP laws are changed or eliminated, car accident victims will have no choice but to work within the regulatory framework and to try to recover as much money as they can after an accident. Often, this means getting help from a lawyer.
Problems with Florida PIP Laws
There are a myriad of problems associated with Florida's PIP laws that are driving calls for repeal and that are giving rise to lawsuits about the enforceability of certain provisions within the law. Unfortunately, the insurance industry forced through a host of changes last year, which reduces available coverage from $10,000 to $2,500 in many cases and places a strict time limit on benefits. The new provisions also contain an exclusion of chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists services under PIP coverage. It was argued that the restrictions on the providers resulted in PIP no longer being considered a "reasonable alternative" to a tort system. Insurance Journal reports that a judge issued an injunction, preventing this portion of the law from going into effect at least temporarily because of a potential violation of the constitutional rights of the insured.
Another issue is the cost of personal injury protection insurance. The chairman of a major Florida auto insurance company wrote on News-Press.com that PIP coverage is not providing the desired money-saving benefits for insurance companies or drivers. Insurance providers promised savings from cracking down on insurance fraud as a result of the tougher PIP restrictions. However, lawmakers provided companies with the means to avoid passing any such savings onto consumers and we can expect these insurance companies to take full advantage. The end result for the consumer is less coverage and no savings.
Cost-saving measures in PIP coverage, including an amendment permitting insurers to limit reimbursement for PIP medical expenses to twice the payment provided by Medicare Part B, have also posed problems. The insurance company chairman indicated that the issue is that injured victims keep getting courts to agree to higher payments to providers. Of course, the real issue that impacts accident victims is that the limits on payments exist in the first place. If a patient who is severely injured needs specialized medical help, a provider might charge more for this kind of care than would be permitted by PIP laws. The injured plaintiff shouldn't need to go to court to prove that higher payment is appropriate in a life-and-death situation.
PIP insurance is designed to provide the first $10,000 in medical expenses, regardless of fault. It was never meant to provide the kind of comprehensive coverage a personal injury lawsuit is meant to recover. Speaking to an attorney is always your best course of action in the wake of a serious or fatal accident.
If you've been hurt in a car accident, contact West Palm Beach injury attorney David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394.