Florida has one of the highest insurance rates in the United States. Had SB 54 been successful, rates may have increased even more, depending on who you listen to. While returning to an “at-fault” system may have been more beneficial to some automobile owners, there were other provisions which may have made it more costly for others.
Personal Injury Protection Claims (PIP)
Under existing law, motorists who are involved in an accident file claims directly with their own insurance company, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. The new law, which was slated to go into effect January 1, of 2022 would have eliminated this and would require motorists to carry a $25,000 policy for anyone injured in an accident, and $50,000 when two or more people were injured. This is similar in nature to today’s coverage requirements. However, the coverage is not the same since drivers would now have to file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The premise behind the bill, which was vetoed by Governor DeSantis, was our current no-fault insurance does not hold responsible drivers accountable. However, this is not exactly the case, especially when someone suffers a serious injury. Victims of a car accident who suffer a serious injury do still have the option of filing a claim against the responsible driver, particularly when they have suffered an injury which results in their losses being greater than the coverage offered under PIP.
The proposed bill failed to contain a $10,000 medical payment provision, which would have provided coverage for medical payments from each parties own insurance company. This would have allowed medical providers, particularly hospitals to recover for services for to those persons injured in car accidents, and without health insurance. Look for the legislature to revisit this issue in the next session and for there to be a medical payment provision to the bill. This may make the legislation acceptable to the Governor.
Reforms Which Would Have Impacted Bad Faith Claims
Perhaps the biggest loss for Florida drivers when this bill was vetoed, there was also a companion bill, which was included in the veto, and contained changes which insurance companies would be required to abide by in terms of denying or settling claims. This would have prevented many consumers from having to fight harder to get a fair settlement from the insurance company following an accident.
Anyone who has ever been in an auto accident in Florida knows they can expect to face challenges dealing with insurance companies. This often leads to lawsuits which are filed against insurers for acting in bad faith. This includes insurers who were looking out for their best interests rather than the accident victim’s interests.
There is still a chance this bill may be reintroduced as stand-alone legislation, but until it is and is signed into law, victims of car accidents may still have to fight hard to get a reasonable settlement for their injuries.
Car Accident Victims Still Have Rights to a Fair Settlement
When you are involved in a roadway accident in Florida, you have rights which must be protected. Making sure you get immediate medical attention after an accident is the first step in preserving your rights and making sure the shock from the accident is not masking a potential serious injury.
If you are involved in a roadway accident in Florida, do not attempt to negotiate with insurance companies on your own. Instead, contact Hardball Law at 941-807-7555 and let us help you navigate this difficult process.