The Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) reform law enacted in 2012 has withstood another legal challenge as the 1st District Court of Appeals denied a motion for rehearing on its reversal of an injunction that prevented a significant part of the law from taking effect.
In March, a coalition of acupuncturists, chiropractors and licensed massage therapists persuaded a Leon County circuit court judge to grant a temporary injunction that blocked the portion of the law banning payments to them and requiring that injured person seek treatment within 14 days of an accident from a physician or hospital except under certain conditions.
Those provisions were put in place because of widespread PIP fraud in Florida. Much of that fraud was generated through falsified claims for medical need and treatment.
The victory for those business groups was short-lived, as the 1st District Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court on Oct. 23. The appeals court said the business groups failed to show a specific instance that supported their claim of denial of access to the courts. The court also said that the claim of economic harm was insufficient to assert the potential access-to-courts claims of other parties.
“The real parties in interest—injured motorists whose ability to sue tortfeasors has been impermissibly limited—are absent from this case,” the court wrote in a unanimous decision. “The Provider Plaintiffs’ attempt to bootstrap the standing requirement by joining the fictional ‘Jane Doe,’ purporting to represent all Florida citizens that were, are, or will be injured as a result of a motor vehicle collision, must likewise fail. The instant record does not provide a factual context or legal basis to support this hypothetical claim.”
The business groups were denied a rehearing in late November, which means those provisions of the PIP reform law will remain in effect unless the business groups file a successful appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.
“In order for Florida to no longer be the No. 1 state in the nation for questionable auto claims, and stop the $1 billion fraud tax on Florida consumers, the PIP reforms passed by the Legislature must have time to be fully implemented,” Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told the website Property Casualty 360.
“We are cautiously optimistic that once these reforms are fully implemented and have been given time to work, the fraud and abuse in Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system that so adversely impacts Floridians will subside, and Florida consumers may be provided with much needed relief once and for all,” he said.