In reflection, one might legitimately ask the question:” has the adoption of the Florida Motor Vehicle No Fault Law in 1971 really achieved the goals it was intended for?”
If we simply accept the decision to do away with what we familiarly know as “PIP” (personal injury protection), then the answer is a resounding “no”. When the hatchet was to have fallen in October 2007 on PIP it was abruptly placed way back on the back burner.
Time has worn down on Old South Florida where the perception is, understandably, that a lawsuit is filed every 30 seconds in connection with disputes relating to PIP issues. The real irony is that just as the enactment of PIP failed to have the effect it was intended; to unclog the already clogged arteries of our legal system and lower insurance premiums; so would the dissolution of it.
The term “No Fault” prior to 1971, was associated with divorce court and defined as “one in which neither spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Both spouses agree that “irreconcilable differences” have arisen, and that neither time nor counseling will save the marriage; it simply will not work and is a more efficient way to end a marriage; this most aptly describes Florida’s current situation.
Although there have been many reported abuses of PIP, one has to ask the question, why? Do people take advantage of the system? Probably they do, but is that the fault of the system or is that a lack of a willingness to conduct investigation? Presently 17% of South Floridians have no health Insurance and of the remaining 83%, who are insured, their health carriers require a rigorous screening and subrogation process that is sometimes so complex that attorneys have difficulty discerning the provisions. We all drive highways with daily “fender benders” that result in minor injuries. Dissolution of our current system would simply result in the transfer of the responsibility for payment of medical care for the minor injuries to health carriers. The cold reality is that no attorney is going to accept a case in which very minor injuries are caused by a negligent driver. What is the result? Higher health insurance premiums and less accountability on the part of negligent drivers. Of course, that assumes you can afford health insurance in the face of escalating premiums.
So who wins? Automobile insurance carriers win. They want this not because it will significantly cause lower premiums; they want this because it reduces their need to pay their own insureds for injuries until (or if) the insured can recover from a negligent person. Is that because the insurance companies care about their insureds-the people paying their premiums? The very clear and rational answer is no!
Insurance carriers want dissolution of the “no fault” statute because they see an opportunity to transfer costs to someone else and to further increase their profits.
Should we hate them? No. They are doing what Big Corporations do; they try to maximize their profits, even at the cost of the innocent consumer. Should we allow them to get away with this? Absolutely not. Will we let them get away with trading profits over people? Not if you help.
Write, call and email your legislators. This is not an issue that relates to whether PIP should be maintained-that is common sense. This is really an issue of whether you intend to control your government or whether you are willing to allow the insurance lobby to control your elected officials. Maybe it is time to draw a line in the sand on something.