In Florida, state law requires that every registered motor vehicle be insured for at least a minimum of $10,000.00 of personal injury protection. This coverage is more commonly known by the acronym PIP, or Florida no-fault law. PIP protects vehicle owners by insuring their automobile no matter who is at fault for the accident. Pursuant to Florida Statute 627.736, PIP pays for the medical costs incurred by the drivers, passengers, and pedestrians injured in a vehicle accident. PIP coverage pays these expenses, irrespective of fault in order to lessen the likelihood of litigation and to expedite medical treatment.
This law presently prevents what some people argue, is a fair recovery for massage therapists and chiropractors who are sought out for their services by injury victims. In March 2013, a small group of chiropractors and massage therapists challenged the revised insurance law. These chiropractors and massage therapists sought for inclusion in the allowance for PIP benefits based on the law’s lack of constitutionality.
Judge Terry Lewis of the Second Circuit heard the case (known as Myers v. McCarty, Case No. 2013 CA 73 (2nd Cir. March 15, 2013)), and decided that the law was unconstitutional, as it deprived the insured motorists of Florida their access to the court. In Article I, Section 21, of the Florida Constitution, every citizen is afforded the right to have access to the court for redress of injury without sale, denial or delay, unless a reasonable alternative is provided to them. In his opinion, Judge Lewis states that this:
“legislation took away or severely limited the right of a person injured in a [m]otor vehicle accident to seek redress in court for the injuries wrongfully caused by another, relieving the wrongdoer of responsibility for his conduct and granting him immunity from civil liability. This clear impingement on the rights… was rationalized by asserting that this legislation was providing a ‘reasonable alternative’ [for access to the courts] to the common law tort recovery system.” The Judge continues by saying, “The legislation…now severely limits what can be recovered under that [PIP] policy…the revisions to the law make it no longer a ‘reasonable alternative’ that the Supreme Court found it to be.”
Judge Lewis granted the injunction on the new provisions in the PIP legislation citing its lack of constitutionality.
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But what does all of this mean for Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists? They must file suit to gain momentum against this law. Judge Lewis’s disdain for the law is apparent, but more jurisdictions must fight against this law or it is likely that recovery will be very difficult to get from these insurance companies. Motor vehicle drivers spend millions of dollars every year to have insurance coverage with $10,000 in PIP protection. The legislators have unreasonably and unconstitutionally restricted access to the court with this meticulous law, forcing insured’s to seek treatment almost immediately or lose the majority of their PIP coverage. Further, the law completely eliminates professions that provide accident victim’s relief.
If you are a medical care provider having difficulty collecting PIP benefits from these insurance companies or if you are a victim of a motor vehicle accident, don’t go at the insurance companies alone. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we are experienced professionals who would love to help you with your claim. Call us today, at (727) 451-6900.