Appeals court upholds 2012 no-fault auto insurance reforms

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A Florida appeals court Wednesday upheld the 2012 legislation reforming the state’s personal injury protection law.

The First District Court of Appeal reversed the decision of Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, reports Kathleen Haughney in the Orlando Sentinel. Lewis ruled earlier this year that changes made to Florida’s PIP no-fault auto insurance law were unconstitutional. 

No-fault insurance pays the first $10,000 of medical expenses for auto accident victims, regardless of who caused the accident, without having to sue.

In 2012, the Legislature reformed the law by banning PIP payments to massage therapists or acupuncturists and limiting payments to chiropractors. Accident victims also have 14 days to seek treatment. 

Lawmakers intended the statute to curb fraud and cut costs.

Lewis ruled in March that the changes decreased PIP value, and was not worth giving up the right to sue.

The District Court of Appeals overturned the decision, arguing the plaintiffs — chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists—did not have a right to sue since they could not show damage to their constitutional rights, Haughney noted.

 “The PIP reform law is intended to ensure that a motorist with emergency medical needs receives the maximum PIP benefit of $10,000, but applies brakes on the costs for non-emergency medical treatments,” said Michael Carlson, executive director for the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida in a statement applauding the decision.

“The Legislature took great pains to balance the goals of the PIP law: to provide prompt payment of critical medical and related benefits against the rampant fraud and overbilling plaguing the system,” Carlson added.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.