On March 18, 2013, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis partially granted an injunction against the amended Personal Injury Protection (PIP) statute that went into effect on January 1, 2013. Judge Lewis struck down the language regarding a requirement of an Emergency Medical Condition in order for the injured party to have access to policyholder’s $10,000.00 in PIP coverage. Further, Judge Lewis also granted an injunction against the section of the new PIP statute that prohibited payment to Massage Therapists and Acupuncturists.
However, the State of Florida and any State agency is granted an automatic stay of a Court order pending an appeal. Thus, for now, the amended PIP statute remains in effect.
Be careful what you wish for.
The very professions that targeted the new PIP bill as being unconstitutional should hold off on celebrating the Leon County decision. As previously stated, the State of Florida is granted an automatic stay of the Judge Lewis’s order. Further, not only will the Department of insurance appeal this very order, Governor Scott and several of his cronies in the Legislature are seeking to do away with Florida’s no-fault system altogether.
Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) has gone on record stating that the Leon County decision, has spurned the idea of eliminating PIP in favor of mandatory bodily injury coverage. Senator David Simmons (R-Maitland) first introduced the idea of going to mandatory bodily injury and scrapping PIP for good. Negron has now called upon Simmons to push forward with his bill and is now lobbying the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to support legislation that will make bodily injury coverage mandatory in Florida.
Governor Rick Scott’s Response
Governor Scott has pledged to fight the Leon County ruling and will lobby his fellow Republican lawmakers to ditch the present no-fault system that he fought so hard to change in 2012. In fact, Scott has stated that insurance premiums are beginning to drop which falls within his alleged goal to assist consumers. However, it is far too early to determine whether the amended PIP statute will reduce premiums statewide as only a very small percentage of injury victims purchased their respective insurance policy after January 1, 2013.
The only logical benefit of the amended PIP statute is to the insurance carriers. Bases on the provision that a claimant must now commence medical treatment within fourteen (14) days of the accident, the statute limits the number of injury victims who may treat under personal injury protection. Basically, the legislature sought to limit the number of claimants and in turn increased profits for the insurance carriers statewide. Governor Scott and his supporters have attempted to spin this as a victory for consumers by alleging this will reduce monthly premiums. We have yet to see any proof to support that loaded claim.
Ironically, the very parties who sought to have the amended PIP statute deemed unconstitutional likely now wish they left well enough alone. If our no-fault system is scrapped completely, Chiropractors will no longer be able to seek reimbursement through the no-fault carrier for services rendered to the auto accident victim. The very purpose of PIP is to enable expeditious medical treatment without having to wait for a Court of Law to determine and opine of liability. If PIP is scrapped, we would be looking at a backlog in our Court system and those who lack health insurance may be denied medical treatment from a number of physicians unwilling to wait for a Court of Law to determine liability before knowing whether they will get paid or not.
Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is an injury law attorney located in Clearwater, Florida. If you should have any questions regarding Florida PIP law, call the injury lawyers at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation and case evaluation.