April 5, 2012

Injured Victims of Car Accidents in Florida: Be Aware

As personal injury attorneys practicing law in the State of Florida, we are sadden to report that the Florida Legislature recently passed a law which drastically restricts the rights of those injured in car accidents . Since 1972, Florida has had a no-fault car insurance system for those injured in car accidents. The no-fault system essentially required everyone who owned a motor vehicle to purchase personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage. This PIP coverage would pay for the medical care required to treat car accident related injuries regardless of who was at fault for causing the car accident.

Now the legislature, to benefit insurance companies, has placed restrictions on the time a car accident victim has to seek medical care, restrictions on the types of eligible medical care,and most importantly, restrictions on the amount of coverage available based upon the type of injury sustained. Beginning in January, car accident victims will only have 14 days following an accident to seek medical care if they want to be able to use the PIP coverage they paid for as part of their insurance premium. Any delay past those 14 days will result in the injured victim being unable to use their car insurance to pay for any medical care they may need for accident related injuries.

Additionally, although car owners are required to buy $10,000.00 of PIP coverage, if their injury is not considered to be an "emergency medical condition," they will only be entitled to $2,500.00 of medical coverage. Clearly this arbitrary definition of what is an emergency medical condition will be used by insurance companies to limit their exposure to car accident victims who sustain less severe, but still debilitating, injuries.

While these limitations were passed into law allegedly to reduce our fellow Floridians' insurance premiums, the legislature amazingly did not require the insurance companies to reduce the premiums they charge. We consider this failure to require the insurance companies to reduce what they charge to be a benefit for them; and yet again, a burden for our fellow Floridans.