A bill that would repeal Florida’s no-fault insurance law appears to have stalled out.
The state senate’s Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee overwhelmingly voted not to approve the measure, which would repeal Florida’s no-fault system requiring drivers to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The bill would resulted in a requirement to carry bodily injury coverage in its stead. Florida House members approved a similar version of the measures (HB9) in the first week of the legislative session. Although the bill is technically still alive, the legislative session ends in two days. A committee chairwoman (who voted against the bill) filed a motion to reconsider and temporarily postponed it, meaning it could potentially arise again. However, that committee isn’t expected to meet again prior to the close of the legislative session.
Florida’s no-fault system has long been the target for reform advocacy. PIP laws, codified in F.S. 627.736, require all drivers to carry at least $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits. (It should be noted the $10,000 rate was set in 1979, and is only worth today about one-eighth of what it was when the law was signed.) One can only access $2,000 of those injury benefits unless their injuries are severe and emergent. This no-fault coverage is extended regardless of who was at-fault for the crash. In order for a car accident victim to pursue damages from the at-fault driver and other third parties, they must meet the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 627.737, which requires proof that victim suffered:
- Significant/ permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability;
- Significant and permanent scarring/ disfigurement;
The goal of the no-fault law is to reduce the number of Florida car accident lawsuits that can overburden the state’s court system. However, some have argued that it provides insufficient coverage to crash victims and makes it difficult to hold careless drivers accountable.
Florida is one of just two states that do not require drivers to carry bodily injury coverage, which is paid to cover the expenses of those injured by the insured’s careless or reckless driving. Most auto insurance policies do have some form of this coverage, though, as drivers are required to be personally responsible for up to $10,000 in damages for crashes they cause. Uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage cannot exceed the amount of one’s bodily injury liability coverage, and most drivers do want to make sure they have some protection if they struck by a driver with minimum insurance or no insurance at all.
Of course, there are those who prefer the current PIP system – like health care providers – because PIP pays nearly twice as much as Medicare does for the exact same procedures. One study conducted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation concluded a repeal of Florida’s no-fault PIP system would reduce insurance premiums by 9.6 percent for liability coverage, or about $81 per car per year. For all coverage combined, it would amount to a reduction of 6.7 percent, study authors found.
The House version of this bill required a minimum $25,000 coverage for damages for injury or death of one person and $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people. The Senate proposal would have allowed for $20,000 in bodily injury protection for one person and $40,000 per crash, with minimums rising to $25,000/ $50,000 in two years when individual premiums would increase. The Senate version would also require drivers to carry $5,000 in medical payments coverage (MedPay).
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Measure to Repeal No-Fault Auto Insurance Hits Wall in Senate, March 1, 2018, By Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
More Blog Entries:
General Negligence v. Premises Liability: An Important Distinction in Florida Personal Injury Claims, Feb. 21, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Blog