Gov. Rick Scott is pushing hard for an overhaul of Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) law and by all accounts the controversial no-fault auto insurance program will be at the forefront of the 2012 legislative season.
Earlier this month, Scott and a handful of elected officials “said they will make it a priority to change the PIP system, contending it is rife with fraud, litigation and the overuse of medical treatments that cost consumers some $900 million in premiums each year,” according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Lloyd Dunkelberger.
PIP is designed to quickly provide benefits for a person injured in an automobile accident, regardless of fault. Florida drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage, which provides payment for medical, wage loss and death benefits resulting from an accident. The system also limits an insured person’s right to sue for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
While the number of reported Florida car accidents continues to drop overall, PIP claims – and insurance premiums – are rising. The state Office of Insurance Regulation reported in April that the number of PIP claims increased 26% to 386,464 statewide in 2010. In South Florida, PIP claims skyrocketed by 48%, with the region’s insurers paying out more than $1 billion in claims. Officials say the rise in claims is in part due to staged accidents. According to the Sun Sentinel’s Danielle A. Alvarez, “Florida drivers each pay an additional $50 a year in insurance premiums because of fraudulent personal injury protection-related claims.”
Neither the Governor nor other lawmakers have proposed specific changes to the law, but the overhaul is expected to focus on preventing fraud and limiting lawsuits, medical procedures and fees. “The challenge,” Dunkelberger reports, “will be balancing changes against the argument that limiting PIP will hurt legitimate accident victims and deny them the right to medical treatments.”
Whether or not the reforms are actually made into law is another question. The state legislature shot down a PIP revamp bill earlier this year and some say the entire law should be put out to pasture. The Palm Beach Post’s John Kennedy reports that recently “[t]wo lawmakers, Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican, and Rep. Evan Jenne, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, urged lawmakers to consider scrapping personal injury protection completely — saying the system was beyond repair.”
Rear end and head on accidents are among the most common types of automobile collisions in the United States. These accidents often occur as a result of negligence, typically in the form of careless, inattentive or distracted driving. All drivers have the duty to drive safely and reasonably on the road, and when unreasonable driving leads to an accident, injured parties may be entitled to compensation. If you were involved in an auto collision, a free consultation with an experienced South Florida personal injury attorney can help you to weigh all of your legal options. The South Florida car accident lawyers at Anidjar & Levine represent clients throughout the area, including in Pompano Beach, Hialeah and Hollywood. Call our Fort Lauderdale office today at 800-747-3733.
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