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Part of PIP law temporarily blocked by state court

A Leon County judge has approved a temporary ban on part of the landmark auto insurance overhaul passed last year by the Florida Legislature.

The Personal Injury Protection reform bill targeted chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists, restricting their ability to provide covered treatment for people injured in auto accidents.

They sued and Leon County Judge Terry Lewis ruled this week hat they had a good chance at succeeding and deserved a temporary injunction on certain provisions of HB 119.

Lewis found that the bill violates the part of the Florida Constitution that provides for access to courts.

The judge ruled that that portion of HB 119 should be temporarily banned as the lawsuit runs its course.

The judge also ruled that a provision in PIP reform that limits covered medical care to $2,500 if the injured person does not have “an emergency medical condition.” The typical policy limits under Florida’s no-fault law are $10,000.

 HB 119 was a top priority of Gov. Rick Scott in 2012, and is another example of a law the governor pushed, only to see a judge rule it unconstitutional months later.

Scott weighed in with a statement, saying he would continue to fight in support of the law.

 "Our personal injury protection legislation was designed to stop the high costs passed on to Florida families by car insurance companies because of excessive lawsuits, waste and fraud," he said. "Since our legislation, more than 70 percent of the insurance rates approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation have either decreased or held steady, compared to a majority of rate increases before our reforms. Our reforms are working to lower insurance costs for Florida families and we will continue to fight special interest groups to keep them in place."

The chiropractors had a better outcome in state court than they did in federal court, where a judge denied the plea for an injunction in December.