#3 in a series of discussions on Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault
Continuing our discussion, the reality of the No-Fault system was an attempt by the insurance industry to raise substantial revenues, while at the same time decreasing the number and amounts of settlements or jury awards for injuries caused by the negligent operation of a car, or vehicle in Florida. Unfortunately, the system was so poorly thought out that it not only failed to limit the volume of personal injury cases, but it also effectively drove up most costs associated with car accident cases.
In the beginning, the threshold for bringing a Florida car accident case was if the victim of a car or truck accident would incur in excess of $1000 worth of medical expense related to his or her vehicular related injuries. Back in the early 1970s physicians typically didn’t charge more than $18 for an office visit, even for the treatment of accident patients. It took the medical community slightly less than a nanosecond to figure out how to charge more than a $1,000 for the treatment of a car accident patient. Incredibly, the insurance industry thought that they would limit the number of cases brought if they raised that threshold to a $3,000 minimum.
That failed wisdom just simply taught the medical community to raise their rates in an additional nanosecond. This failed reasoning continued until October 31, 1984 when Florida Statute Chapter 627 was finally amended to require the following four thresholds:
1. The victim had to suffer a wrongful death;
2. The victim had to suffer a significant loss of an important bodily function;
3. The victim had to suffer permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement;
4. and then the last Threshold was if the victim of a car accident suffered a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
This last category only opened up the interpretation for a soft injury claim and the insurance industries’ ability to dispute those injuries through it’s paid for defense experts’ controlled opinions. All the while, the system enabled doctors, such as orthopedic physicians to charge over $1500 for that initial first visit, compared to $18 in the early 1970s.
Frankly, the auto insurance industry can be thanked for exponentially multiplying the cost of trauma care in this country while at the same time inciting an explosion in the related fields that are supposed to care for accident victims.