Impact of New PIP (No-Fault) Law on Accident Victims

The Florida Legislature in their attempt to combat perceived insurance fraud has once again made changes to the Florida No-Fault (PIP) law, F.S. 627.736. The new law has been slated to take effect January 1, 2013. Under the new statute, the one positive change for victims of automobile accidents will be the $5,000 death benefit that has been added to the $10,000 in medical and lost wage benefits already in place. The potential negative changes for victims of automobile accidents are:

1. If the victim does not receive medical treatment within 14 days of the automobile accident then no benefits will be owed or paid;

2. If the victim does not suffer an “emergency condition” then only $2,500 of a person’s medical and/or chiropractic treatments will be paid. An emergency medical condition is defined by the law as 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:

(a) Serious jeopardy to a patient’s health

(b) Serious impairment to a patient’s bodily functions

(c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part

In return for the new restrictions and reduction of benefits there are promises of 10% to 25% reductions in premiums by 2014. These same types of promises were heard when no-fault was initially passed in 1972 and every year since then that benefits have been restricted or reduced. The same promises were made when the rights of victims of medical malpractice were severely restricted. In the end there were no significant savings or reductions in premiums. As Bill Newton, the spokesman for the Florida Consumer Action Network has said, instead of preventing fraud this act may simply pad the pockets of big insurance companies.

How these changes will affect a victim’s rights to sue the at-fault party and their insurance company is unknown. It may turn out that the erosion and reduction of benefits may make the entire act unconstitutional. It may also mean that if a person’s bills exceed $2,500 then the at-fault party and their insurance company will be liable for these bills as well as the victim’s pain and suffering. The best way to ensure that you are not unfairly or unjustly impacted by the new PIP act is by at once employing the professional skills of an attorney. With a lawyer by your side, you can take the steps you need to ensure that your rights are protected and your accident recovery is not inhibited in any way.