Prior to the new PIP Bill, dating all the way back to the early 1970’s, PIP was a way for Floridians who did not have health insurance and who were in a car crash to receive up to $10,000.00 in medical benefits. This law applied to anyone who was in a car crash and it did not matter whether the person who was seeking the benefit caused the crash or not. Thus, it was a blanket way to insure that everyone had some sort of medical care, and allow hospitals to know that the person they were treating would be able to pay them, thus insuring they could continue seeing these individuals. Also, it provided additional protection to them under Florida Law by keeping down the number of lawsuits. This was done by having a threshold. Threshold meaning that in car crashes, individuals would not be able to seek non-economic or pain & suffering damages unless they had a permanent injury as defined by Statute. Thus, the PIP Statute was designed to be a counter balance to a limiting to a constitutional right of access to the courts which was impaired or lessened by adding this threshold. This new PIP Bill effectively turns the tort system on its head because the bill that was passed and just took effect is so onerous and limiting that it effectively will get rid of the tort threshold. This will mean there will be a lot more auto accident cases filed, which will unfortunately clog up our court system.
This could have easily been avoided if the bill would have been designed to address its stated purpose, attacking fraud. The main reason for fraud is a loophole that allowed massage therapists to operate a clinic. All the legislature or governor needed to do was to prohibit non-doctors clinics from operating and close the loophole allowing massage therapists to own clinics. These two (2) items would have rid over 99% of any PIP fraud and would have not lowered the amount of benefits each Florida driver could receive. Unfortunately, as you are about to see in the following sections, this was not the case.
Under Florida’s new PIP Bill, effective 1/1/2013, there are thresholds that have been put in place in order for injured to get the PIP benefits they paid for. First, a person must receive treatment within fourteen (14) days after the motor vehicle accident in order for that individual to receive their PIP benefits. If a person is unable to see a doctor or unable to get treatment due to work related purposes or simply hopes that their condition will get better over time and does not treat within the fourteen (14) days, they will absolutely get no PIP benefits whatsoever. This is a major concern to most individuals, especially in these economic times who find it difficult to take off work and see a doctor even when they are injured.
To read Part 3 click here.