Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Law Expires Today!

Florida's (PIP) law requiring all motor vehicle owners and operators in the state to carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection for medical care following a car accident officially expires today.

And while Florida legislators are gathering for a 10-day special session on budget cuts and other legislation this week, it is unknown whether an agreement on reviving PIP will be come to, as urged by Governor Charlie Crist, or if the issue will even be addressed. In the meantime, the Florida PIP law will expire today and possibly be done forever.

Regardless of who's at fault in a car accident, the expiring Florida PIP law essentially allows for the coverage of up to $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages after the accident.

More specifically, the expiring Florida PIP law allows for payments following a car accident of 80 percent of reasonable and medically necessary medical expenses, 60 percent of disability benefits for lost gross income and earning capacity, 100 percent of replacement services like child care and housekeeping, and $5,000 per individual death benefit, with the $10,000 limit in mind of course.

Auto insurance companies lobbied hard for PIP's sunset, saying that the current system was being abused and thus leading to higher costs for both consumers and themselves.

Hospitals, doctors and health providers opposed such a view, alleging that auto insurance companies were merely trying to pass their costs from car accident injuries onto them and also wrong in trying to convey to consumers that the demise of PIP would mean lower auto insurance payments.

Such debates about Florida PIP have waged on for months, and yet legislators have been unable to come to any definitive agreement on the issue. A Sun-Sentinel story detailed that Crist's lead legal counsel, Chris Krise, has already discussed the subject of Florida personal injury protection in four closed-door sessions involving lobbyists for doctors, insurers, lawyers and other interest groups. Obviously, an agreement on Florida PIP was not reached.

The story also details that Florida House and Senate negotiators secretly agreed to extend Florida PIP law in exchange for enacting new limits on insurer payments and including several fraud-fighting provisions. However, other legislators, trial lawyers and insurers were upset that the meetings were held in secret and that they were not involved, and have thus been very difficult in reaching an agreement.

Ultimately, the most important thing right now remains addressing how PIP's sunset will affect drivers in Florida. The Florida Department of Financial Services has provided an interesting look at how life without no-fault insurance will affect Floridian drivers, and is urging people to purchase sufficient auto insurance coverage to make sure that they and their families receive proper treatment for their car accident injuries.

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