Did the Florida Legislature loose sight of the reason we have PIP?

The personal injury protection (PIP) law was adopted in 1972 to make sure anyone injured in an auto accident would quickly get money to treat their injuries. The legislation provided that a driver’s insurance company pay up to $10,000 to cover medical bills and lost wages after an accident, no matter who is at fault.

The public policy in support of having PIP is expressed in Florida Statute Section 627.737 Tort exemption; limitation on right to damages. The intent was to limit injury lawsuits in Florida to the extent of personal injury protection benefits paid. The statute reads as follows:

627.737 Tort exemption: "Every owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle with respect to which security has been provided as required by ss. 627.730-627.7405, and every person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions, is hereby exempted from tort liability for damages because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of such motor vehicle in this state to the extent that the benefits described in s. 627.736(1) are payable for such injury, or would be payable but for any exclusion authorized by ss. 627.730-627.7405, under any insurance policy or other method of security complying with the requirements of s. 627.733, or by an owner personally liable under s. 627.733 for the payment of such benefits, unless a person is entitled to maintain an action for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience for such injury under the provisions of subsection (2)."

The need for this exemption, and the PIP statute is based upon the fact that Florida does not require mandatory bodily injury liability insurance. Florida is a No Fault State. Everyone with auto insurance (not including motorcycle policies) is required to carry PIP (Personal Injury Protection). It typically covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000.00. You can buy medical payments coverage to fill in the 20% gap and you can also buy extended PIP coverage. If you want to save money, you can get wage exclusions on the PIP or a PIP deductible.

What most people aren't aware of is that BI (bodily injury) coverage is not mandatory in Florida so someone can hit you with "full coverage" and be without BI coverage. Mandatory BI coverage is required in many states, but not in Florida. So "full coverage" equals PIP and Property Damage.

A much needed amendment to the new 2012 PIP bill was proposed during this session that would have added mandatory BI (bodily injury coverage) in Florida, however that amendment was shot down. The insurance company lobby prevailed again, as they would prefer not to have mandatory BI coverage in this state, and now have successfully limited PIP coverage with the new bill passed last Friday evening. Perhaps the legislature has lost sight of the needs of the people of Florida, as well as the intent of the PIP staute, and corresponding limitation of liability, and handed the insurance industry a nice gift for 2012 at the expense of the citizens of this state.

For more information or for a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott, PA Injury and Family Law Attorneys, by calling 727-300-4878 or view our web site http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com

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