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Changes in Florida's Personal Injury Protection Law Take Effect

Until the beginning of 2013, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage paid 80% of your medical bills if you were injured in a road accident. The changes in the law will make it harder to claim PIP benefits in a number of ways.

First of all, you must see a medical practitioner within 14 days of the accident. Many people notice back pain or neck pain after an accident, but they put off going to the doctor, expecting it will go away. There are no exceptions to this 14-day rule.

Second, any follow-up treatment after this initial visit must be based on a referral by the professional who you initially saw, and it must be consistent with this initial diagnosis. This means that if the doctor changes his mind about the specific diagnosis, or makes an additional diagnosis, based on your evolving symptoms as your injury heals, then any further treatment will not be covered.

Third, even if you meet these criteria, PIP benefits are now divided into two classes. You can only claim the full $10,000 if you had an emergency medical condition; otherwise, your coverage is limited to $2500. An emergency medical condition is one that caused acute symptoms of sufficient severity that lack of immediate treatment could result in serious or permanent injury. Be prepared for your insurance company to claim that your injury does not meet this definition, so that it can cut your coverage by 75 percent.

Finally, your insurance company can refuse to pay your claim until you undergo an Examination under Oath. This means that you make a statement, under penalty of perjury, about your injuries. They can also refuse to pay your claim for 60 days if they suspect fraud, even though they do not have any evidence of actual fraud.

PIP coverage exists so that you can be compensated for injuries without needing a lawyer, but unfortunately these changes make it more likely that you will need to hire an attorney who is experienced with insurance claims in order to get your bills paid.