Joining Orlando injury lawyers and personal injury lawyers throughout Florida, the Florida Health Association has thrown its support behind efforts to extend the no-fault personal injury protection law, or PIP. This car insurance law is scheduled to die on Oct. 1, 2007 absent legislative action.
As reported by the Miami Herald the FHA, which represents hospitals and doctors, converged on Tallahassee to lobby for passage of Senate Bill 1450, which extends PIP through 2010. Allowing it to die would create a $350 million shortfall at a time when hospitals are too ill to handle it, the FHA said.
Created in 1971, PIP requires auto insurers to cover up to $10,000 of driver medical expenses without regard to who was at fault in an accident. But the auto insurance industry says PIP’s loose guidelines have created too many opportunities for fraud. Car insurers seek to kill any effort to extend this important protection to those injured in Florida car accidents.
While no system is perfect, the FHA is correct that Florida hospitals are already stretched thin by federal cutbacks and spend significant amounts on uninsured patients. Allowing PIP to die now would only add to their problems.
As I discussed in an earlier post, this isn’t the only PIP proposal floating around the Capitol. Sen. J.D. Alexander, a Republican from Lake Wales, is sponsoring a bill that would replace PIP with mandatory medical payments coverage. Senate Bill 2626 would require up to $25,000 per person or up to $50,000 per accident to cover injuries to drivers or accident victims.
With so many uninsured drivers in Orlando and state-wide, Florida needs mandatory car insurance to provide payment for auto accident related medical and hospital expenses. Otherwise, many blameless drivers and their passengers who can not afford and do not possess health insurance may suffer great financial hardship. The legislature should seek to avoid such an unjust result.