Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance, which means per F.S. 627.736, motorists have access to $10,000 in medical and wage loss benefits from their own insurer – regardless of who is at fault. It also means they cannot sue the at-fault driver for further damages unless they have a broken bone, have lost the use of an important body function, suffered a permanent disability or scarring. Wrongful death claims also may be pursued outside of no-fault laws.
Lawmakers in Florida are working to change this. HB19, sponsored by a South Florida Republican and slated for consideration during the 2018 session, would repeal Florida’s Personal Injury Protection law that was first enacted in the early 1970s. The law would scrap PIP coverage and replace it with bodily injury liability coverage. Most states require bodily injury liability coverage (which covers others’ injuries if you’re at-fault in a crash). While most insured drivers in Florida have it, it’s not technically required. The state’s Financial Responsibility Law does mandate drivers be responsible for a minimum of $20,000 in damages to others if they’re at-fault in a crash, so most motorists opt to purchase it so they can avoid personal liability.
A House panel recently voted 18-7 to propel the measure forward to the House Floor when the new session starts in January.
Supporters of the measure say PIP has long been riddled with fraud and enormous costs. By turning Florida to a “fault” state when it comes to collisions, they opine motorists could save approximately $81 per vehicle in insurance coverage, which would amount to $1 billion a year. Supportive lawmakers say this doesn’t even take into account the fact that many motorists have had to increase their health insurance coverage to make up for the lack of coverage they have with auto insurance.
The measure is not universally supported. Those representing those in the medical field argue that while the current Florida PIP system may have problems, health care workers can rely on those expenses being covered in the immediate aftermath of a Fort Lauderdale car accident. Some are proposing, at the very least, adding a provision that would mandate medical payment coverage.
Other opponents to the bill include several big-name auto insurers, including Progressive and Allstate. Lobbyists for those industries are pushing for reform of “bad faith” insurance laws that allow those injured in Florida auto accidents to pursue action against insurers who unjustly deny or delay payment of injury claims. Insurers say these laws drive up insurance costs, though as our Broward injury lawyers have noted time and again, tort reform has shown to have very little impact on insurance costs. Instead, it generally harms those who are the most severely injured and need that help the most.
The current personal injury protection system is structured to ensure $10,000 will be available to cover the cost of injuries in minor accidents. There was reform in 2012 when lawmakers agreed to reduce non-emergency benefits to just $2,500. That measure also prohibited coverage for massage and acupuncture.
Florida drivers still have one of the highest car insurance premiums in the country – and that is for some of the lowest amounts of coverage. It’s one of only two states that doesn’t mandate bodily injury liability coverage.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
PIP repeal: House panel votes to overturn no-fault plan in Florida, Nov. 7, 2017, By Charles Elmore, The Palm Beach Post
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