Florida Legislators Revive Personal Injury Protection Law after Its Short Death

After expiring at the start of this month, Florida's personal injury protection (PIP) law will be reinstated at the New Year.

Prior to PIP's expiration on October 1st, this law required 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.

Florida personal injury protection essentially covered up to $10,000 of medical bills for insured motorists involved in car accidents. More specifically, Florida's PIP law covered up to 80 percent for medical expenses of personal injury, 60 percent for loss of income and a $5,000 death benefit for all insured drivers in the state, regardless of who was responsible for causing the accident.

However since the first of this month, Florida motorists are no longer required to have this medical coverage on their auto insurance, which is, of course, still mandatory to drive in the state.

Without this medical coverage from their auto insurance, those motorists who are unable to pay for health insurance will be in big trouble, especially if they suffer serious injuries in a car accident and are at-fault. PIP's expiration also creates a fear that uninsured motorists will now hit the roads in the state.

With that said, four days after the sunset of PIP, Florida legislators revived this law in a special legislative session called by Governor Charlie Crist, a major advocate of the no-fault law. As PIP was entering its final months earlier this year, these very same legislators were unable to strike a balance between the cries from opposing parties on no-fault auto insurance.

Auto insurance companies had complained that the personal injury protection law was wrought with fraud and said that eliminating PIP would essentially save consumers more money in the long run. Hospitals, doctors and health care providers lobbied hard for the continuation of Florida personal injury protection law, saying that the auto insurance companies were simply passing on their costs to them.

With all this considered, Florida legislators quickly came to and passed a proposal concerning PIP during the special legislative session. While restoring no-fault insurance, the proposal will also attempt to curb instances of fraud by keeping doctor-owned clinics from treating patients and running up their charges.

While the PIP proposal simply needs Crist's signature for the law to be restored on January 1, 2008, many Florida motorists are wondering what will happen in the meantime if they are involved in a car accident.

As long as both drivers involved in a car accident still carry PIP coverage, no-fault provisions will continue. However, if one person does not have PIP coverage in an accident prior to January 1st, the at-fault driver would have to pay all medical bills.

Without mandatory no-fault insurance for the rest of this year, Florida auto accidents could become a springboard for legal disputes in court, especially when considering that there is an average of 700 car accidents per day in the state.

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