Personal Injury Protection Updates Florida

Status of (PIP) Law Challenge

May 8, 2013

 

During the 2012 Florida Legislative Session, substantial changes were made to the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance law. The new law provided for determination of an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) before the insurance carrier would provide coverage of more than $2,500.00. In addition, claimants will not be eligible for coverage unless they are examined by a health care provider within fourteen (14) days of the crash.

Before the effective date of the law on January 1, 2013, several health care providers file suit alleging the law violated the Florida Constitutional provision that guarantees Floridians access to the courts. Judge Terry Lewis, a Tallahassee Circuit Judge, examined the Plaintiffs’ request to enjoin the enforcement of the new insurance scheme. In evaluating the injunction request, Judge Lewis found
1) the Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was not issued
2) the Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law
3) there is a substantial likelihood the Plaintiffs will succeed on the merits of their case
4) there are no adverse consequences to the public interest if enforcement is enjoined.

The Defendant, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, immediately appealed the injunction to the First District Court of Appeal (DCA). As such, this state agency was entitled to a stay of the injunction pending review of the injunction by the DCA.

On April 19th, the DCA removed the stay of Judge Lewis’ injunction. This means the original injunction remains in effect. Therefore, pursuant to Judge Lewis’ order, automobile insurance companies are prohibited from requiring a finding of an Emergency Medical Condition as a prerequisite for payment of Personal Injury Protection benefits or that prohibit payment of benefits for services provided by chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists.

Currently, the previous statutory framework regarding payment to chiropractors remains in place. All other provisions of the statute, such as the fourteen (14) day requirement for initiation of treatment, remain in effect.

Michael Weimorts, Attorney At Law

 

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