Earlier this month, the First District Court of Appeals announced that it will not reconsider of Appeals announced that it will not reconsider its decision to permit Florida HB 119 – which prevents personal injury payments from going to certain types of treatment providers and was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 – to be fully enacted.
The idea behind HB 119 was to cut down on fraud and abuse in the insurance system by, among other things, prohibiting PIP payments to acupuncturists and massage facilities. The law also requires PIP claimants to seek treatment from a hospital or physician within 14 days of an accident.
A group of acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors had asked for an injunction preventing the law from being fully implemented, which was granted but reversed a short while later. This ruling upholds that reversal.
Why are these practitioners being singled out? After all, they do already have to comply with state regulation. For example, in Florida acupuncturists must be 21 years or older, have passed an approved examination, at either the state or national level, and have completed a national certification process as well as an approved training program.
But despite this, there’s still a perception – right or wrong – that acupuncture and massage treatments aren’t scientific or medically valid, that the state regulations are fairly simple to get around, and that both fields are rife with fraud. The stated goal of HB 119 is to rein in abuse of the system by tightening restrictions on who can receive PIP money, and limiting that group to practitioners of more traditional forms of medicine.
Certainly, eliminating fraud is a worthwhile goal, and may end up working to help keep insurance costs under control a bit better. But there’s another important aspect to HB119, one that we at the Andriotis Law Firm have been emphasizing for years – it requires accident victims to seek medical attention as soon as possible after their accident if they hope to file a personal injury claim.
We’ve said for years that it’s critical to see a doctor immediately after your accident, if only to safeguard your own health and well-being (it also strengthens your claim by making it harder to dispute that the accident was the cause of your ailments). By requiring a doctor visit in the immediate aftermath of an accident, HB 119 might even help prevent some accident victims from developing chronic or long-term health problems. And we’re all in favor of that.
If you’ve been in an accident, make sure you seek medical attention as soon as you can. Even if you think you’re fine, you may not be – some injuries can take a while to display any symptoms at all.
And after you’ve done that, give us a call. We’ll help you get the justice you deserve for your injury.