Pain in the neck for accident victims

Drivers injured in a car wreck may suffer more headaches from recent changes to state PIP laws.  Local chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture businesses may be taking a big hit when new PIP laws go into effect, as well.  These changes will make it more difficult to get treated for whiplash and other less visible injuries.  And these injuries often only show up days after an accident.

In order to be eligible for the full $10,000 traditional PIP benefits, the accident victim needs to:

• See a doctor (specifically, someone with a title of MD, DO, DDS, or visit the hospital) within 14 days after the accident, and

• Be diagnosed as having an “emergency medical condition.”

And if it’s not an “emergency medical condition,” the accident victim still needs to see a doctor within 14 days of the accident, but is only entitled receive a maximum of $2,500 in PIP coverage.  (Currently, state law requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance which covers $10,000 in injury and lost wage benefits, regardless of who is at fault in an accident.)

What’s an emergency medical condition?  The new law basically defines it as a condition which, if untreated, would cause serious jeopardy to your health, serious impairment to your bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of your organs or parts.  As you may have guessed, chiropractic coverage maxes out at the $2,500 limit.  Worse yet, pain relieving massage and acupuncture therapies are not covered at all.

Will this new law actually help the average Floridian?  The consensus from the industry is, not much and not any time soon.  The bill required either reductions in PIP rates by October 1 or an explanation from insurers on why the rates were not going down.  As reported in the Sun Sentinel, industry insiders expect we’ll see those explanations come October 1.  And there’s no down side for insurers–the law provides no penalty if they don’t reduce PIP premiums.  But if you’re injured in an accident, the new laws may mean that your treatment options are going to be more limited.

When you’re injured in a car accident, the last thing you need is to worry about navigating the new PIP laws.  Call Perenich Caulfield Avril & Noyes with any questions about your car, truck or motorcycle accident.  We’ll see you through.

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