Proposed Changes to Florida’s PIP Laws
When instituted in 1971, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws were intended to reduce extraneous litigation brought by individuals injured in automobile accidents. However, over time, this has not necessarily proven to be accurate. Unfortunately, the Florida Legislature has not seen fit to repeal these laws, so Florida automobile owners are forced to deal with them. Further, given the financial limits of PIP coverage, in some cases, it may be viable to circumvent the PIP provisions altogether, and a discussion with an experienced Miami car accident attorney can be essential to understanding the options an injured individual has at his/her disposal. Apparently finally realizing the inadequacies of the PIP laws, which are essentially forcing injured individuals to take their chances in court, the Florida Legislature is currently considering changes to the PIP limits, hopefully in an effort to achieve the original goal of the PIP laws – reducing litigation.
Every owner of an automobile in Florida is required to purchase at least $10,000 of PIP insurance coverage. This insurance, sometimes referred to as “No Fault” insurance, provides coverage for the owner’s medical care if they are injured in a car accident. As a result, if an individual involved in an automobile accident suffers non-serious injuries, he/she must file a claim with his/her own insurance company, under their PIP insurance coverage. That individual’s PIP coverage will pay for the medical expenses of that person, up to the policy limits, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
If the injuries sustained by that individual are serious or permanent, then that individual may file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and/or file a lawsuit against the other driver. However, it is to be understood that Florida is a pure comparative negligence State, which means that if such a case goes to trial and a jury determines that the injured plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident, any recovery would be reduced by the percentage of liability. As an example, if an injured individual’s expenses were $10,000, but he/she was deemed to be 25 percent responsible, then he/she will only be permitted to recover $7500. Accordingly, in some cases, PIP coverage may be preferred as opposed to taking one’s chances in court.
Currently, the Florida House’s Health & Human Services Committee is considering a bill which would limit hospitals and physicians to the Medicare fee schedule when they provide services to those who have been injured in automobile accidents. Currently, a hospital providing emergency services and care cannot charge greater than 75 percent of the “usual and customary charge” associated with that care. Further, physicians providing emergency services are allowed to charge “the usual and customary charges in the community.” The proposed amendment would limit hospitals to 200 percent of the Medicare prospective fee payments for emergency services. Further, physicians and dentists providing emergency services at hospitals would also be limited to 200 percent of the Medicare fee schedule.
Additionally, in a bit of relief, the proposed amendment would extend the time by which an injured individual has to seek PIP medical benefits. Currently, all individuals must seek medical advice and/or treatment within 14 days of the accident. Under the proposed amendment, that would be extended to 30 days, although with a caveat. Any treatment plan developed by a physician as a result of an injury suffered in an automobile accident must be submitted to the individual’s insurance company within 30 days. Accordingly, insurance companies would not be required to pay claims if the insured’s medical providers did not submit a treatment plan within that time period.
Seek Legal Advice
If you have suffered bodily harm as a result of an automobile accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. Note that there are deadlines regarding PIP claims, quick action is essential. The attorneys at our office have years of experience representing clients in auto accidents, and know how to address the tricky issue of PIP coverage. After analyzing your injury, if we believe that you may be able to obtain reimbursement from another party, we will develop a strategy to get you the most compensation possible. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.