Mandatory bodily injury coverage is being proposed as a new required coverage for Florida auto accidents. Under current law almost every Florida Auto Accident is subject to the terms of Personal Injury Protection insurance known as PIP. PIP has been around for about four decades. It was originally the brain child of the insurance industry intended to limit lawsuits. Now most of the auto insurance industry wants PIP gone. PIP has changed throughout the years but under the current scheme it offers $10,000.00 in total coverage for medical bills and lost wages that you pay for even if someone else is at fault in the accident. In exchange for these “benefits” a motorist loses the right to recover for intangible injuries like pain and suffering unless they have a permanent injury from the car accident. The intention being that there would be fewer lawsuits over small injuries.
The intention failed. Now there are thousands more lawsuits filed by consumers and medical providers against insurance companies that fail to pay PIP benefits. Further small lawsuits are still filed for pain and suffering damages and there is no empirical data to show these have been reduced with the permanent injury requirement. Instead the focus of the lawsuit is whether there is a permanent injury or not but the claim is still made. Further insurance companies gripe that PIP gives medical providers a blank check of $10,000 for every person in every car involved in every auto accident. Indeed, there are many clinics that advertise heavily for auto accident cases and there is rampant evidence of fraud in the system.
J.D. Alexander, a Republican State Senator from Lake Wales, according to the Tallahassee Democrat,
is working to draft alternative legislation to make bodily injury coverage the state’s new mandatory auto insurance. But he would rather the Legislature put off further changes until regular session, next spring.
Mandatory bodily injury coverage for motor vehicle accidents makes sense because it requires that a negligent party pay for all damages they cause. Safe drivers who are the victim of someone else’s negligence are not required to foot the bill for the at fault driver. it will end litigation over PIP medical payment disputes and there will be no litigation over the permanent injury threshold. Critics argue It will put an undue hardship on hospitals and trauma centers who will lose out on payments from drivers without health insurance. One alternative is to place a fee or surcharge of a few dollars on every policy to pay for uninsured auto accident related trauma care. This would be much cheaper than the hundreds a family pays for PIP but still provide for the urgent care needs of the uninsured that the PIP system at least partially covers.