The next time you drive your car consider this: the minute you're involved in a collision the clock is ticking. Florida has a new set of stringent personal injury protection laws, which offer less time to make auto insurance claims and make it harder to get full medical benefit pay-outs.
Florida’s Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws have significantly changed, and this brief article is presented to help you protect yourself and your family regarding these revisions. In a nutshell, these new laws can severely limit your rights to benefits under your own insurance policy. These changes were enacted by the Florida Legislature under the pretext of reducing insurance fraud, which has become a significant problem in Florida. In reality, the changes to the existing PIP laws went beyond that goal, and greatly benefit the insurance industry at the expense of consumers.
As you might imagine, the new statutes are complex but highlighted here are some of the important and relevant portions as they will affect you. But first, a little background is helpful. The idea behind the current PIP statutes in Florida is that each person who owns a motor vehicle in Florida is required to purchase some basic amount of PIP insurance to help pay for a portion of medical bills and or lost wages incurred as a result of injuries they sustain in an automobile crash, regardless of who was at fault in the crash. Of course, there are limitations and exceptions, but this is the basic idea. In exchange for that guaranteed payment of benefits, injured persons are restricted from recovering certain types of damages (non-economic) if their injuries did not meet a defined “threshold” in terms of severity. This type of coverage has been in place in Florida since 1971, and was drastically changed in ways that can limit the rights of policyholders and consumers.
Under the new statutory PIP scheme, the following are some important changes that will impact your ability to obtain benefits that you may have purchased under your PIP coverage.
- In order to obtain PIP medical benefits, initial medical treatment MUST be obtained within 14 days from the accident. Many times, an injured person may think that they will “get better”, and delay obtaining medical treatment more than 14 days. You will lose your right to obtain PIP coverage that has been purchased.
- The initial care MUST be provided in a hospital or licensed clinic or by a select group of professionals, including medical doctor, osteopathic medicine, dentist, physicians assistant or registered nurse practitioner. In addition, follow up medical care requires a referral from such providers and must be consistent with the underlying diagnosis rendered when the individual received the initial medical care. Again, many times injuries manifest themselves several days after an accident and therefore payment for treatment of these injuries may be denied by the PIP carrier if those later diagnosed injuries were not addressed at the initial visit.
Advanced Imaging Centers work closely with attorneys and medical professional to properly diagnose injuries obtained in accidents. The diagnostic tests most frequently used by healthcare professionals to diagnose neck and back injuries involving auto accidents include:
- CT Scans (Computerized Tomography),
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging),
These diagnostic tests are capable of identifying and diagnosing the following neck and back injuries and conditions:
- Herniated discs,
- Protruding discs,
- Ruptured discs,
- Bulging discs,
- Bone alignment problems
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Whiplash or soft tissue neck injuries,
- Neck sprains and strains.
Screening and diagnosis of neck and back injuries play a key role in the successful treatment and recovery for auto accident victims.
- Total medical benefits owed by the PIP carrier may be limited to $2,500.00 (even though consumers purchased $10,000.00 worth of PIP coverage) if they are not diagnosed with an “emergency medical condition” by certain specified types of medical practitioners. The definition of “emergency medical condition” is such that absence of medical care would result in:
- Serious jeopardy to health
- Serious impairment of bodily functions or
- Serious dysfunction of bodily organ or parts
- Massage and acupuncture are eliminated from personal injury benefits. Chiropractic Physicians cannot render an opinion as to whether their patient has an Emergency Medical Condition qualifying their patient for the full personal injury benefits ($10,000) for treatment.
Please note that there are other significant changes to the current Florida PIP or “no fault” laws and this article is not intended to address all of these changes. In any event, please educate yourself and be aware of how these changes may impact your rights if you happen to be the victim of another person’s negligence on our roadways. Feel free to contact Advanced Imaging Centers at 352-750-1551 if you have specific questions or if we can be of any assistance.