In Florida, you have only 14 days after an auto accident to be examined by a healthcare professional or risk losing any compensation you may be entitled to from the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy every Florida motorist is required to carry.
Under Florida statute 627.736, all motorists must have a PIP insurance policy when they register their cars. PIP insurance provides medical coverage, compensation for lost wages and death benefits after an accident. (It doesn’t cover property damage, however.)
These are considered “no-fault” insurance policies because they compensate the policy holder regardless of who was responsible for the accident. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, the law requires you to initially seek coverage for medical care under the PIP portion of your own insurance policy before filing a personal injury claim.
Under PIP, you are entitled to file a claim to pay for any necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, rehabilitative, ambulance, hospital, and/or nursing services you may require as a result of your injuries. How much you are able to collect depends on if your medical provider determines whether you have an emergency medical condition (EMC) or not.
You may be eligible for up to up to $10,000 in medical benefits if a qualified medical professional has determined that your injuries constitute an EMC. If it is determined you do not have an EMC, you will be limited to only $2,500.
14 Day Deadline
There’s one catch: In order to collect your benefits, you must be examined by a qualified physician, dentist or chiropractor no later than 14 days after the accident. If you don’t receive medical services and care within 14 days following your motor vehicle accident, you will not be entitled to collect any PIP benefits.
This is one of the reasons why we stress that our clients seek medical treatment as soon as possible after being involved in an auto accident, even if they feel “fine.” In some circumstances, it can take days for symptoms of neck, back and head injuries to appear. If you decide not to see a doctor because you don’t think you’ve been hurt, and then on the 15th day after the accident you begin to experience pain, under the law your insurer will not have to pay your claim. You will be stuck having to pay your medical bills out of pocket.
Answers to Your Car Accident Claim Questions
After an accident, you should talk to the other parties involved and write down:
• Contact info
• Insurance information
• The make, model, color, and license plate numbers of all cars involved
• Driver’s license info
Additionally, you should gather evidence of the scene, including:
• pictures of your car and the others involved
• pictures of the scene and surrounding area of the accident
• statements from any witnesses
• pictures of injuries
It’s best to refrain from making any unnecessary comments or expressing any opinions after an accident since you may not have all the facts. In addition, it would be a good idea not to post anything about the accident on social media. If you decide to file a claim, your words could be used against you.
Attorneys specializing in Florida auto accidents often work on a contingency basis. Lawyers represent clients without charging them up-front and collect a percentage of the settlement after the case is settled. This arrangement allows injured parties who cannot pay a retainer or other fees to hire a lawyer without any cash on hand.
Get Help from an Experienced Accident Attorney Serving Lakeland, Winter Haven & Lutz
If you fail to seek medical treatment within 14 days of your accident, you will probably not be able to recover any compensation for medical expenses or lost wages through a PIP claim. However, you will still be able to seek compensation for your damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person(s) responsible for the automobile accident.
The smart thing to do after any accident is to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney. In many instances, the $10,000 from your PIP policy will only cover a small portion of the total costs of your injuries.
If you have been hurt in an automobile accident in central Florida, contact Lakeland personal injury attorney Tania L. Rivas of the Rivas Law Group to schedule a free consultation.