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Appeals court stops action in PIP case

from FCEP

Adapted from Appeals court rebuffs challenge of Florida's new PIP law by Jim Turner

The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, a three-judge appeals panel stopped a challenge to a 2012 state law to reduce fraud in the personal-injury protection (PIP) auto insurance system. After hearing a case involving an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, two massage therapists, a hypothetical "John Doe" representing health-care providers and a hypothetical "Jane Doe" representing motorists, the panel determined the case would not stand in court.

Instead of a "hypothetical claim," the plaintiffs failed to offer a "factual" motorist who is harmed by the law, the judges wrote.

The order reverses a March ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis that said the law illegally prevented accident patients from using PIP claims to pay for treatment by acupuncturists and massage therapists and limited services from chiropractors.

Lewis also found fault with the law's lower limit on how much will be paid for non-emergency medical care.

The 2012 law signed by Gov. Rick Scott and backed by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater requires that people involved in motor vehicle crashes seek treatment within 14 days and allows up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions and $2,500 for non-emergency conditions.

The bill was considered a last ditch effort to maintain the no-fault, or PIP, system that requires motorists to carry $10,000 in medical coverage.

"Today's ruling moves Florida a step closer to beating back rampant auto insurance fraud and bringing rate relief to Florida consumers," Atwater said in an email late Wednesday. "The people of Florida need insurance relief and it's time they get that relief." more

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