Insurance is a necessary evil for all drivers in Florida. We expect coverage after paying our premiums, but sometimes the fight to get benefits after an accident can be extremely challenging. One type of insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), is mandatory under Florida law. PIP insurance is sometimes also called “no-fault” coverage, because it will pay out regardless of the fault of the driver. Specifically, a person’s own PIP coverage pays for their initial medical expenses and lost wages up to a certain policy limit, which is $10,000 in Florida. PIP also covers you if you are injured while riding in another person’s vehicle. The purpose of PIP is to provide individuals with necessary benefits even while liability for an accident is in controversy.
In 2012, the Florida legislature recommended amendments to the state’s PIP laws in an effort to reduce insurance fraud and attempt to lower automobile insurance rates. The Governor then signed the bill, and the law went into effect in January 2013. However, in amending the law, the legislature placed several new restrictions on PIP claims and coverage. These restrictions affect every Florida driver, and can considerably reduce the benefits that you are allowed after an automobile accident.
Most significantly, the new laws require injury victims to obtain initial medical treatment within 14 days of an accident, or the right to PIP benefits will be lost. Not only is this timeline narrow, the medical provider a patient chooses must fall within a specified list of licensed physicians. As a result of the licensing requirement, injured individuals may no longer seek care in the form of massage, acupuncture, and some chiropractic care for their injuries and have it be covered by PIP.
The bill also limits benefits unless it is determined that the injured person suffers from what is termed an “emergency medical condition.” The law defines an emergency medical condition as one that manifests itself through acute and severe symptoms, such that an absence of immediate medical care would most likely result in serious medical jeopardy to the patient. An individual who has not been diagnosed with an emergency medical condition is limited to PIP benefits in the amount of $2,500. Emergency medical conditions will still be covered at the full $10,000 limit. One increased benefit under the new PIP laws is a death benefit in the amount of $5,000. This is in addition to the standard $10,000 in PIP benefits.
Even though there have been challenges to the recent PIP law, there appears to be no likelihood that the law will change any time soon. It is, therefore, extremely important to speak with a skilled injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been involved in an accident. You can no longer afford to wait and see if you recover from your injuries, or hope that your pain eventually subsides. You are now subject to the restrictions of Florida’s recent PIP law changes. Our legal team can give you an explanation of your responsibilities under the law and the benefits to which you are entitled.
The Southwest Florida injury attorneys at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano have the experience and resources to deal with every party’s insurance company in order to get you the compensation for your medical costs and lost work. Let us deal with the insurance companies so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Contact us online or call toll-free at (800) 238-7442.