Since its establishment in 1972, most drivers in Florida have been able to turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to collect up to $10,000 (on a typical policy) to cover medical costs and lost wages caused by a crash. That was until 2012 when the law was reformed by House Bill 119 (HB 119) in an attempt to cut down on fraud.
For several years now, the changes to PIP coverage have made it challenging for accident victims to easily collect what they need to address their injuries after a crash. Now, things could get worse if Senator Jeff Brandes gets his way and Senate Bill 156 is passed.
What is SB 156?
Senate Bill 156 (SB 156) is a bill that aims to repeal PIP in Florida. If the measure passes, drivers in our state will no longer be required to carry this coverage, meaning hundreds of thousands of drivers in our state will go without this safety net that had provided coverage even in no-fault accidents.
What happens if SB 156 doesn't pass?
If Sen. Brandes is unsuccessful and SB 156 does not pass, then drivers in our state will still face the difficulties created by HB 119, which created a series of requirements to allegedly cut down on fraudulent claims.
For those who are not aware, state law now requires accident victims to seek treatment for injuries within 14 days either in an ambulance, hospital or from another medical professional, explains a 2012 Insurance Journal article. In addition to this constraint, accident victims can only recover the full $10,000 coverage offered by PIP if a physician or other medical professional "determines that the insured has an 'emergency medical condition'." If an emergent condition is not noted, then coverage is limited to $2,500.
The challenges accident victims face
If you've ever suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident, then you know how frustrating and overwhelming the process of recovering damages can be. Now, with reforms to PIP, the process is even more challenging and forces people to follow a timeline they may not fully understand or know about.
People may fail to follow the new requirements which, as you can imagine, would be a costly mistake. And even if you follow the new PIP requirements, there is no guarantee a medical professional will label your condition as emergent, therefore limiting your PIP medical benefit.
With so many changes having been made to PIP already and the threat of its disappearance altogether, it's important now more than ever to talk to a lawyer after a crash so that you better understand your rights and are better able to protect them if need be.