At the Robert Sparks Attorneys we have been tracking the new statutory revisions to Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law as it has made its way through the Florida legislature and onto Governor Scott’s desk. While he has not signed the bill yet, it is believed to have his full support and he should be enacting the bill into law soon. Some parts of the new law will become effective in July of 2012 and others in in January of 2013.
One of the most important aspects of the new PIP law is that in order for your PIP coverage to apply, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of your accident. If you do not seek treatment within 14 days, your PIP coverage will not apply. You will still have a claim against the at-fault driver’s bodily injury insurance (if they have insurance), but one of the benefits of PIP was that injured persons would at least have $10,000 in PIP insurance to help pay their medical bills immediately, regardless of who was at fault. If you treat within 14 days, the amount of PIP insurance you get will depend on your injuries.
If you have an emergency medical condition, you will receive up to $10,000 in PIP. If you do not have an emergency medical condition, you will receive $2,500 in PIP coverage. The new statute does not define "emergency medical condition", and this will most likely be a contested issue as insurance companies, doctors, and lawyers try to find a standard between when PIP will cover only $2,500 or up to $10,000. One other change is that although proven to help patients recover after an accident, massage and acupuncture are no longer covered by PIP. You can still try to recover for these bills against the at-fault driver, but this is another example of losing a benefit that PIP used to provide.
One cannot help but notice that it seems as if Florida’s drivers are having their insurance benefits reduced, or taken away, but will still be expected to pay the same amount in premiums. Supporters of the new law believe it will reduce premiums in the long run, but there is no guarantee. The changes also put drivers more at risk as they have to rely on the at-fault driver having enough insurance to cover their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering they may have from an accident.
It is more important than ever to think about adding uninsured and underinsured motorist’s coverage to your auto policy. Now that PIP is limited, injured persons will be looking more to the at-fault driver’s bodily injury insurance to recover for their medical bills that PIP used to cover. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or only carries a small amount of coverage, it will be very difficult to get any recovery for your injuries unless you have uninsured motorist’s coverage to protect against that. Also, this bill was supposed to be passed to help reduce fraud, but very little in the bill actually does that.
Once the calendar hits July 2012, it will be essential for those injured in an accident to seek treatment quickly and to discuss with their Tampa personal injury lawyer about how the new PIP law affects their case so they can get the care and treatment they need and get an understanding of how their medical bills will be covered.