The first challenge of Florida’s reform to its personal injury protection system has failed with a denial of an injunction that would have stopped the law’s implementation.
The Personal Injury Protection Act, which the insurance industry called “the most significant auto insurance law in decades,” was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in May
A group of chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists filed a lawsuit challenging the federal and state constitutionality of the legislation—naming state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty as the defendant. They looked to stop the law’s implementation in the meantime.
The PIP Act goes into effect Jan. 1. The measure, HB 119, easily made it through the state House, but only narrowly passed through the Senate.
HB 119 requires claimants to seek treatment within 14 days of an accident, with initial treatment from a hospital or physician. The bill bans treatments from acupuncture and massage facilities. The measure also increases penalties for fraud and limits attorneys’ fees.
The group’s attempt to block the application of the law was met with harsh words from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Lazzara in Tampa.
“Plaintiffs have utterly failed to demonstrate that there is a substantial likelihood they will eventually prevail on the merits,” he says.
“While this is just a short-term procedural victory and the case will now go on to trial, [Judge] Lazzara has handed down a defeat to the opponents of reform,” says Christian Camara, Florida Director at R Street, a non-profit public policy research organization. “This also marks a win for Florida consumers, who stand to benefit from containing the escalating costs in our auto insurance market.”
A report from the OIR on the no-fault PIP reform legislation, as well as comments from the insurance industry, cautioned against the expectation of immediate savings from the new law.
McCarty says the law, at least in the near-term, will cut down rate increases rather than result in actual rate reductions.