FLORIDA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER TAKES APPEAL

In a previous blog posts I addressed an Injunction that was issued by Leon County Terry Lewis and its impact on Florida’s amended Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws. Judge Lewis had ruled that the amended provisions of Florida’s PIP laws violated the Florida Constitution. Specifically, Judge Lewis ruled that the amendments violated the right of the people to have access to the courts to seek redress for their injuries.

In response, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) filed a notice of appeal on March 21, which immediately stays a temporary order of injunction from the Second Circuit Court in Leon County, Florida. The notice of appeal acts as a stay of the injunction until such time as the 1st District Court of Appeals can rule on the case issue.

The appeal will address several issues but mainly whether the PIP reform when too far by encroaching upon Florida’s citizens access to courts to seek redress for their injuries sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Last year the insurance industry made huge gains in the PIP reform and its many provisions, including provisions that ban PIP benefits for acupuncturists and massage facilities, and a requirement that claimants seek treatment within 14 days of an accident from a hospital or physician.

Because of the constitutionality arguments there is a chance that Florida’s PIP reforms may end up in the State Supreme Court. Until such time as the appellate or supreme court decides differently, citizens of the State of Florida will have to operate under the 2012 PIP changes which means they must meet strict procedural restrictions or face losing their PIP benefits.

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