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Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Info Series 2 of 3

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Continuing with the second of our three-part discussion of Florida’s PIP laws, it is worth noting that Florida is currently one of twelve (12) states, in addition to the District of Columbia and to Puerto Rico, that have or include PIP auto insurance.  Three (3) of those states give the insured the option to reject no-fault coverage and, instead, elect a policy based on traditional tort liability law.  Some of the nine (9) remaining states have strictly no-fault laws.  Florida, on the other hand, is a partial no-fault state.  It allows persons injured in a person injured in a motor vehicle accident to sue the at-fault driver only if they suffered significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.

Florida Legislature created PIP to provide injured individuals with at least $10,000.00 in immediate medical and lost wage coverage without the stress of filing lawsuit against the other driver.  While the majority of America stayed with bodily injury liability insurance, Florida became a partial no-fault state in 1971.  But Florida’s PIP Statute is problematic in several ways.  Firstly, it is outdated in that it only provides up to $10,000.00 in coverage (unless the insured chooses more coverage in return for higher premiums), while contemporary medical costs often far exceed that amount.  This is especially so when the PIP claimant is treated in a hospital’s emergency room and/or has an extended stay in the hospital.

Secondly, as discussed above, the ambiguity in Florida’s PIP Statute regarding the amounts to which a claimant is entitled has given some insurance companies the green light to wrongly limit the claimant’s PIP benefits to a whopping $2,500.00.  This, in turn, leaves the claimant with no alternative but to sue the insurance company for the remaining $7,500.00 in PIP benefits that the claimant is entitled to.  Does this not go against one of the purposes of the PIP Statute, which is to provide benefits without the stress of filing lawsuit?

Thirdly, the current PIP Statute also gives insurance companies the green light to deny all PIP benefits to a claimant simply because the claimant did not obtain initial treatment within fourteen (14) days of the motor vehicle accident.  What happens to a claimant who did not realize or understand the repercussions of this fourteen (14) day requirement?  Does this requirement not go completely against one of the purposes of the PIP Statute, which is to provide benefits regardless of fault?

 

Stay tuned to the last of our three-part discussion of Florida’s PIP laws, which will explore various remedies to the issues involving Florida’s PIP laws.

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kallistoadmin

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