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Florida PIP Law: Will the Injunction Be Lifted?

Florida automobile insurers are hoping a court lifts an injunction that has blocked portions of the State’s 2012 no-fault law from taking effect. Recently, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal heard oral arguments in the case, which has its origins in a 2012 rewrite of the Florida’s PIP law. The law modified PIP benefits so accident victims with emergency injuries could receive up to ten thousand dollars in medical coverage while those with non emergent injuries could only receive up to twenty five hundred dollars in coverage. The law said these people must seek treatment within 14 days to qualify for any coverage. It also removed acupuncturists and massage therapists from the list of PIP Providers and limited the services chiropractors could provide patients. Florida Second Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis issued a temporary injunction earlier this year, preventing those changes from going into effect.

Now however, Florida Judges are contemplating lifting the injunction placed against the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Act of 2012. Currently, the Act prohibits all massage therapists and acupuncturists in the State of Florida from billing PIP Insurance. Previously, these health care providers had been allowed to engage in such insurance covered treatment plans before the bill was signed into law.

On September 17, 2013, Judges heard oral arguments that were made in favor and in opposition to a potential injunction. The three judge panel included: Judge Stephanie Ray who was appointed by Governor Scott in 2011; Judge T. Kent Wetherell, II, who was appointed by Governor Crist in 2009; and Judge Bradford Thomas who was appointed by Governor Bush in 2005. The oral arguments may be viewed here: www.massagemag.com/oralpip. Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and other trade association filed court briefs in support of lifting the injunction. The industry has alleged PIP fraud costs Florida residents $1 billion.

It was argued by State Solicitor General Allen Winsow that “the ruling of Florida Second Circuit Judge Terry Lewis should be quashed given the fact that Lewis provided no specific instructions to regulators or insurers of how to comply with the injunction… the current injunction did not involve an accident victim or insurers that provided a basis for showing how the PIP reforms did or did not bar them from accessing the court.”

Attorneys Adam Levine and Luke Lirot, who are working on behalf of United Practitioners Organization Inc., said that they did have standing to bring the case because without the involvement of medical providers, accident victims had no basis to go forward with a case. According to Mr. Levine, the [PIP] Act is unfair, because it singles out Licensed Massage Therapists and Acupuncture Physicians to deny compensation for providing care and because they limit the care a Chiropractor may provide. The Act is unjust, because they require all citizens to purchase $10,000 in coverage but only requires the insurer to provide $2,500 in benefits. Finally, the Act is unreasonable, because the limitations and restrictions imposed by the Act have nothing to do with fraud prevention or good medical care.…Elected officials care more for the insurance carriers than they do for their own citizens and we are dismayed by the vast majority of citizens who seem oblivious and complacent about protecting their rights.” While conceding that the medical providers have an economic incentive to once again be PIP providers, Levine nevertheless said lowering benefits to $2,500 for non-emergency care and only having 14 days to seek treatment are provisions that infringe on accident victims’ ability to bring forward a suit.

If you have any questions regarding the current PIP Law or what you should do after being involved in an automobile collision, the experienced and qualified attorneys at The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help you today. Give us a call anytime. (727) 451-6900.