How will Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Reform Bill affect your rights?June 9th, 2012
Recently, Florida’s Legislature has passed a bill that will overhaul Florida’s PIP law which may greatly impact the rights of those involved in auto accidents. Although the bill will likely face challenges like the prior PIP reform bills of 2001, 2003 and 2008, the new PIP changes will generally take effect on January 1, 2013. As a victim in an automobile accident, it will be even more important for you to hire an experienced law firm as soon as possible after an accident that understands your rights under the new laws and maximizes your likelihood of recovering for an automobile or motor vehicle accident. This requires an aggressive and knowledgeable firm that will guide you through the claims process, and consequently file a bodily injury claim and/or lawsuit in court to recover the amounts that may or may not be covered by the new PIP laws.
In 1972, Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) law was adopted to make sure anyone injured in an auto accident would immediately get insurance coverage for treatment their injuries, regardless of who’s at fault. The legislation provided that your own insurance pay up to $10,000 to cover medical bills and lost wages after an accident. However, PIP costs have risen by $1.4 billion since 2008 because of fraud in South Florida and other populated parts of the state. Florida is one of twelve states in the U.S. that requires mandatory PIP insurance by its drivers, but has one of the highest levels fraud in the nation.
The new PIP legislation will require someone in an automobile accident to obtain treatment within fourteen (14) days in an ambulance or hospital, or from a physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or dentist. The full $10,000 PIP medical benefits are available only if a physician, osteopathic physician, dentist, or a supervised physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner determines that the insured has an “emergency medical condition.” The bill defines “emergency medical condition” to mean a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following: (i) serious jeopardy to patient health; (ii) serious impairment to bodily functions; or (iii) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part. Otherwise, for “non-emergency medical conditions,” the PIP medical benefit will be limited to $2,500, such as people with moderate or “soft-tissue” injures. Physicians, chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, or dentists are required to refer patients for follow-up services and care to be covered. Massage therapists and acupuncture was eliminated from eligibility for PIP benefits.
Ruben E. Socarras, Esq., managing partner of the firm, is an AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney focusing his practice in the areas of general civil litigation, including wrongful death and personal injury law. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to seek compensation for your past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. Your loved ones may also have a claim even though they were not physically involved in accident.
Contact the Law Firm of Ruben E. Socarras, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida, by clicking here or calling 561.361.1000 to discuss your case. We handle cases throughout Florida, including those occurring in South Florida, Palm Beach County, Broward County,and Miami Dade County.