Florida’s insurance companies have largely succeeded in re-writing the laws surrounding personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to make it harder for accident victims to get the coverage to which they are legally entitled under the law.
One way that they make it more challenging is by making you get medical care practically immediately after the accident. The tougher laws may also force you to work with a car accident attorney to prove negligence, so you do not have to use your PIP coverage. If you have had a PIP claim unfairly denied, our Pensacola, FL car accident attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers can help.
Requirements of the Florida 14-Day Accident Law
Florida has a 14-day law that requires you to seek immediate medical coverage for your injuries within two weeks of the accident. The law exists to protect insurance companies. The insurance companies believe that the longer the injured driver waits to receive medical care, the more likely they can seek treatment for medical conditions that were not caused by the car accident.
Thus, the rationale for the 14-day rule in Florida is partly to prevent wrongful or even fraudulent claims. However, the practical effect of the law is to deny accident victims rightful insurance coverage.
Another reason for the rule is to use the law to encourage accident victims to seek prompt treatment because it is best for their health. If you have untreated accident injuries, they will likely worsen without treatment. The rule intends to give the claimant a financial incentive to see the doctor, so their injuries are not more difficult to treat in the future.
The 14-day rule does not mean that you need to complete your medical care within two weeks. In most cases with car accident injuries, that is not possible because your injuries will not heal immediately. The law does mean that you need to seek the initial care and treatment. In other words, you must make an appointment and see the doctor.
How Florida’s No-Fault Law Works in Auto Accidents
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. Although you still need to prove that someone else was at fault for your car accident injuries to bodily injury or uninsured motorist coverage, you do not need to prove fault to get your PIP coverage. You can get PIP coverage for certain damages regardless of who was at fault for your accident. However, you must act relatively quickly to obtain medical care to qualify for PIP coverage.
Available Florida PIP coverage
Coverages that you can receive under PIP in Florida include:
- Up to $10,000 for your medical costs (covering 80 percent of your medical bills)
- Up to $10,000 in lost wages (covering 60 percent of your weekly earnings before the accident
- Burial costs
- Rehabilitation costs
How to Comply with the Florida PIP 14-Day Rule
To meet the requirements of the rule, you must see a qualified health provider. These health providers include:
- Medical doctors
- Emergency medical technicians
If you go to the emergency room or urgent care after a crash, you will likely meet the rule’s requirements. Thus, it is almost always within your interests to accept care offered at the scene and go to the hospital if the medical personnel on the scene recommend it. Otherwise, you are taking risks with your own finances and can end up responsible for your healthcare costs.
Delayed Car Accident Injuries Present Complicated Legal Issues
The 14-day rule is not always strictly applied.
One of the most common car accidents is whiplash. When you are rear-ended, the physics and force of the crash can cause your head to snap forward while the rest of your body remains in place. Whiplash can cause delayed injuries. You may begin to experience pain weeks after the accident and not immediately at the scene or in the days afterward. Your claim can face a serious issue, even when you have no way of knowing that you suffered an injury.
Therefore, it is a wise practice to see a doctor within 14 days after the accident if you think there is even a chance that you suffered an injury. You will at least be considered to have received the beginning of medical care when you begin to experience pain in the future.
You Can Only Get Full Coverage for Emergency Medical Conditions
Another complication that PIP claimants encounter is that they can only receive the full $10,000 in coverage for medical expenses when they seek treatment for an emergency medical condition.
Florida changed the law in 2014 to tighten PIP requirements. An emergency medical condition is defined as something that may cause:
- Serious jeopardy to patient health
- Serious impairment to bodily functions
- Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part
If your condition does not meet the definition of an emergency medical condition, you will only receive $2,500 in coverage for medical costs. Thus, when you are in jeopardy of having your claim denied for not meeting Florida’s 14-day rule, you are only talking about $2,500 in total coverage.
There is no guidance in the law for determining what exactly is an emergency medical condition. Our lawyers have seen instances where insurance companies have refused to cover claims because the amount exceeds $2,500, and they do not believe it to be an emergency medical condition.
When you hire an attorney right after your car accident, you will learn more about some of the special rules that apply to Florida car accident claims.
Contact a Pensacola Car Accident Lawyer Today
Our team at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers can work with you immediately after suffering an injury in a car accident. We will advise you of your legal options to obtain financial compensation and fight to get every dollar you deserve. You can schedule your free initial consultation by calling us today at (850) 444-0000 or by sending us a message online.
Car Accident Case FAQs
How can I afford an attorney right after a car accident?
If your lawyer works by contingency fee (Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers does), then you do not need to pay an attorney a retainer or any hourly fees for their services. You only need to pay when you win your case.
What happens when the insurance company denies my claim?
You can sue the insurance company in court if they deny your PIP coverage claim.
What should I do after a car accident?
You need to contact two people right after a car accident: a doctor and a lawyer, and you should not wait long to make these calls.