Paul Davidson: Florida Senate needs to act on auto insurance reform
A bicycle came to rest in the southbound turn lanes of Rose Drive at Imperial Highway after its rider was struck by a Lexus ES 330. According to Placentia Police Sgt. Ken Alexander, the cyclist was riding east out of a driveway at the Rose Imperial Plaza, between a Del Taco and a Flame Broiler restaurant, and began to cross the street about 50 yards north of the crosswalk at Imperial Highway. He rode into the path of the Lexus which was traveling southbound on Rose Drive.

bike accident
Paul Davidson (Photo courtesy Plam Beach Post)

One year ago, I was riding my bicycle down A1A. Out of nowhere, a woman driving a 1988 LTD hit me going 45 miles per hour.

The force of the collision sent me flying 60 feet. I landed face first.

The next thing I remember is being rolled into the hospital.

My lip was ripped up to my nose. Two of my teeth were knocked out. Even though I (thankfully) wore a bike helmet that day, I suffered a concussion. I broke just about every bone in my face. My doctor says I have a road-rash tattoo on my face because the scarring from the accident will not go away.

The driver who hit me carried the mandated minimum $10,000 in bare-bones PIP insurance. Unlike 48 other states, Florida has no requirement for drivers to carry bodily injury coverage.

What did that mean for me, the victim? It meant I had to figure out how to pay the $350,000 health care bill created by an accident I didn’t cause. Because I have appropriate insurance coverage, the bills are getting paid.

What upsets me is there were no consequences for the woman who hit me. It’s as if carrying bare-bones PIP insurance provides a free pass for irresponsible drivers who hurt other people.

What happened to me isn’t an isolated incident.

I recently saw a similar story from Tampa where a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran was on his bicycle and was hit by a driver who carried only minimum PIP insurance coverage. According to the story, his bicycle was the man’s only means of transportation, so he doesn’t have auto insurance. He suffered serious injuries in the accident but, did not have insurance coverage to pay for his $200,000 in medical bills. People are helping him through donations on a “GoFundMe” webpage.

It’s really a policy change that’s needed to help people like us who could become victims of Florida’s outdated PIP insurance system and have to pay dearly because of the irresponsibility of others.

Lawmakers have an opportunity to change this by passing legislation to repeal PIP and replace it with a requirement that drivers carry bodily injury insurance at $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. The Florida House has already passed a good proposal to make this happen. The ball is now in the Florida Senate’s court.

Forty-eight states require drivers to carry bodily injury insurance. Why not Florida?

I understand that we’re down to the last days of the scheduled legislative session. With a little creative leadership that we know exists in the Legislature, the Senate can get this bill on its last-week agenda and send it to the governor.

We urge our children to take personal responsibility. We should also promote it in our state policies.

Please join me in calling on the Florida Senate to join their colleagues in the House by passing this good bill to repeal PIP and replace it with coverage that increases responsibility on our roadways.

___

Paul Davidson is an engineer living in Boynton Beach and was a triathlete before the accident.

Guest Author


6 comments

  • Phil A

    April 29, 2017 at 1:11 am

    While I understand your frustration, Im not sure eliminating PIP and replacing it w/ 25k BI would have solved your problem. In fact, it likely would have made it worse.

    First, 25k is still woefully short of 300k+ in injuries. BI offers no real advantage here.

    Second, the driver in this case would/will be more likely to carry no insurance if BI is implemented as her ins cost will rise substantially. Only drivers who carry BI already will see any reduction–at most about $6 per month.

    Third, with 25k in BI, a lawyer will need to be retained to establish the exact percentage each party was at fault. Did you have front and rear lights, did you have a red rear reflector, were you wearing a helmet–did it have MIPS technology, were you wearing high visibility clothing, were you traveling in a bike lane or as far right as reasonably possible, were you obeying all traffic laws, did you do anything a reasonable cyclist would not have done–like cycling past stopped cars at a red light, or not exercising extreme caution when cars are turning right.

    With PIP, none of these questions matter and you need no lawyer to get 10k of your med bills paid. However, In order to recover in BI, you must prove the percent of fault attributable to each party. This will require obtaining a lawyer and the lawyer will take 33-40% as his/her fee, plus costs–leaving 15k or less to pay meds.

    Further, under PIP providers are restricted as to how much they can be reimbursed. Under BI, no restrictions on reimbursements exist. Further, care will cost more for accident patients in a BI only system given that medical providers are taking a risk of zero or reduced payment becuase fault will need to be proven always, and any such payment will be received in months or years–not in 30 days like PIP.

    I think it is fair to assume that 10k in PIP w its rebursement limits will get more care for accident victims than 15k (the $ left after paying the attorney) in BI with no limit on reimbursements.

    One quick example. The typical MRI charge is about $2000. Under PIP, providers receive only $700-$800. If No PIP has paid the provider, the BI cost will easily exceed $800.

    There may be good reasons to eliminate PIP but an accident like this is not one of them.

    • Tito

      April 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      Good arguments, good critic, but something has to be done, we have to start somewhere, why don’t you spend your time giving ideas instead of criticizing! Keep up fighting Paul! People like you make the difference!

    • Paul L

      April 29, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      In this case I’m sure he would be able to clear the 25k directly from the insurer without needing a lawyer to take a 1/3. Even if the driver were only found 10% at fault the 25k limits would still pay on 300k+ in bills. A 25k BI limit for the at-fault driver would work out better for him than 10k in PIP.

    • Ian

      April 30, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Couldn’t of said it better myself! If they FL house and Senate want to make a change for the better then keep PIP and make BI mandatory for all. Would this increase car insurance rates? Yes. Would this have helped the man on the bikes problems. Yes!

  • C Stoner

    April 29, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Paul,
    I am glad for your recovery..
    I can give you a 3 part answer to your question..
    Court system-too lenient in terms of punishment for drivers who drive illegally or repeat offenders.
    Politics-lobbyist do good things, but also puts pressure when it comes to legislation
    Medical costs- no need to elaborate.
    ( BTW I am now the care taker of my 78 year old mother, was involved in a near death auto accident in 1988)

  • Jose

    May 3, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Good discussion. The fact of the matter is that repealing PIP will bring NO benefit to anybody but the Insurance Companies. If PIP does not work as it should, well, let’s make the legislators fix it! but do not repeal it!. Legislators are supposed to work on behalf of the people not on behalf of some other economic interests right?. PIP benefits are not even enough but If repealed, the possibility of someone involved involuntarily in a car accident to at least receive 10k in medical expenses goes away. If repealed, that money has to come from somebody’s pocket right?, the victim (which would be unfair), the person who cause the accident (which would be fair but usually will require hiring an attorney and expense your money anyway), the medical center or the state (if finally nobody pays the medical bill which would be unfair but very possible to occur). If you want to increase the bodily injury part, excellent, but I don’t see how killing PIP will add benefits to the victims.

Comments are closed.


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