By Wayne Hogan and Leslie Goller
When the Florida legislature amended the PIP car insurance law, it violated the Florida Constitution’s access to courts guarantee, so a circuit court judge issued an injunction against sections “which require a finding of an ‘Emergency Medical Condition’ as a prerequisite for payment of PIP benefits or that prohibit payments for services provided by acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists.” The judge’s decision protected the rights of people injured in car accidents.
On October 23, an appeals court ruled that chiropractors and massage therapists who challenged the law were not the right people to bring the case. The court held: “The real parties in interest—injured motorists whose ability to sue tortfeasors has been impermissibly limited—are absent from this case.” That may mean a case brought by a car accident victim whose rights were restricted by the new PIP law could successfully challenge it in court.
The appeals court also said, “[T]here is no apparent reason why Floridians whose access-to-courts rights are infringed by the 2012 PIP Act cannot bring their own constitutional challenge.”
We predict this will happen soon. In the meantime, insurance companies will try to take advantage of the PIP insurance changes, so if a person gets into an accident they need to get prompt attorney advice on the right steps to take to protect their rights.
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