Circuit Court Finds New Florida PIP Law Unconstitutional
Finding that the new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law passed by the Florida Legislature last summer exceeds “the outer limits of constitutional tolerance”, a Leon County Circuit Court judge issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of sections of the law that apply to “emergency medical conditions” as prerequisites for payments and payment of services to chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.
As referenced by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, PIP has always been justified as a “reasonable alternative” to every citizen’s common law right to redress against the driver responsible for causing the citizen’s damages. The argument was that since PIP guaranteed certain payments for medical bills and lost wages — regardless of fault – this was a fair trade for not being able to seek damages, or the full measure of one’s damages, against a negligent driver.
As I discuss much more fully in my book, The Clever Client’s Guide To: Avoiding Disaster Under the 2013 PIP Law, the Florida Legislature passed a major revision of PIP, significantly reducing benefits based upon the particular diagnosis made by a doctor following a car accident, as well as completely eliminating medical payments to certain kinds of medical providers (chiropractors, massage therapists, etc.)
Apparently, Judge Lewis felt that these changes were too significant for the current PIP framework to represent a “reasonable alternative”.
Governor Rick Scott and the State Insurance Commissioner’s office have vowed to appeal Judge Lewis’ decision. In the meantime, it appears that the political will to keep PIP in Florida may be waning, and a system of mandatory bodily injury liability coverage in Florida may be on its way. Florida is one of only 13 or so states that still have a PIP system.
It will definitely be interesting to see how this story develops. If you have any questions about a Florida car accident, Florida automobile insurance, or PIP benefits, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.