Personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, as outlined in F.S. 627.736, legislation that was designed to reduce lawsuits in Florida, instead resulted in a record number of 60,000 lawsuits filed in Florida in 2017, according to a report by the Florida Justice Reform Institute. This amounts to a 50 percent increase in PIP litigation in a single year.
However, insurers weren’t rushing to the halls of the state legislators to urge them back a repeal of the state’s no-fault PIP statute (which faltered in the state Senate this past session). But that’s probably because Florida’s top 25 automobile insurers raised their PIP rates 54 percent just since the beginning of 2017. On average, premiums increased 35 percent faster than other types of insurance premiums. Motorists in Florida are within the top six when it comes to the highest auto insurance bills for those within a no-fault system.
Statewide, drivers are compelled to pay $10,000 in PIP coverage to foot the bill for their own injuries in the event of a Florida car accident, regardless of who is at-fault, regardless of how much health insurance a person already has. The PIP system was established in the 1970s as a means of reducing litigation following minor car accidents and fender-benders. Nearly 50 years later, the relatively small benefit insureds receive hasn’t changed (failing miserably to keep pace with medical inflation), which pushing consumer rate increases and – as we now know – resulting in even more injury lawsuits.
However, most of those pursuing these claims aren’t actually those injured in Florida car accidents. Rather, they are the chiropractors, clinics, imaging centers, doctors and other providers who must fight to get paid by PIP insurers.
In fact, the Palm Beach Post reports PIP is the largest source of injury lawsuits, responsible for more than half of the state’s insurance litigation, which in turn is driving up the premiums of Florida drivers. The problem reportedly has to do with something called “assignment of benefits.” When third parties, such as a medical clinic or auto repair shop, inform consumers they will handle the PIP claim for them in exchange for signing over the assignment of benefit. Insurance companies say the problem is these entities have incentive to take PIP insurers to court.
One state commissioned study opined drivers in the Sunshine state could save as much as $81 per vehicle if PIP was revealed and bodily injury liability coverage required (which it is currently not, though most insured drivers do have it). Florida is one of just two states that does not require bodily injury liability insurance that makes motorists responsible for injuries to others.
Opponents of the most recent PIP repeal proposal argued this would be a bad idea because for many drivers, particularly the working poor, PIP may be the only medical insurance they have. That $10,000 may not be much when it comes to serious injuries, but it’s better than nothing. If lawmakers impose both bodily injury liability and medical payment coverage, it may once again result in taxing drivers who already have health insurance.
If you are injured in a West Palm Beach car accident and have questions about accessing your PIP coverage, our experienced crash attorneys can help.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
PIP lawsuits explode to record, Feb. 23, 2018, Palm Beach Post
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Man Sues Uber for Loss of Legs After Helping Move Stalled Car, May 24, 2018, West Palm Beach PIP Coverage Attorney Blog