On March 9, 2012, the Florida Legislature passed legislation which will reform the current PIP (Personal Injury Protection) laws of Florida. This legislation was a highly contested issue in this year's legislative session and may be the most sweeping reform of the no-fault insurance laws in recent years.
The legislation which has passed the House and Senate calls makes the following changes to the existing law:
- People now have two weeks (14 days) to pursue treatment for injuries after being involved in a motor vehicle accident;
- PIP patients can now seek treatment from chiropractors, but acupuncturists and massage therapists are still excluded from PIP coverage;
- No longer any cap/limit on attorney fees;
- Judges in civil injury cases cannot use multipliers in order to award a greater amount of fees in complex cases;
- If an insurance company is investigating a case for potential fraud, they are allowed to examine insurance policyholders under oath.
Despite these changes, Floridians are still required to carry $10,000 minimum no-fault coverage. This coverage protects individuals who suffer serious harm in car accidents. Anyone injured in an accident and only experiences relatively minor or “soft tissue only” injuries can collect up to $2,500 from no-fault. The legislation has been sent to Governor Rick Scott to sign into law and it is expected that he will sign as he has publicly supported this reform.
Many do not share in Governor Scott's support and fear that the amendment will severely limit policy holders and consumers of this state. Given the newly imposed statutory limitation on treating periods (limited to just 14 days following the date of the accident) many consumers may unknowing waive their right to apply their PIP coverage and therefore be unable to seek the appropriate medical treatment after being injured in a car accident.
It is now more important than ever for a person injured in a car accident to immediately seek the representation of a personal injury attorney to ensure their best interests are protected.