Why You Shouldn’t Delay Getting Medical Treatment after a Car Accident
Car accidents can cause all kinds of injuries that require immediate medical attention—broken bones, cuts, concussion, and burns. Prompt medical treatment gives you the best chance of making a full recovery and can even save your life.
But there’s another reason why you should seek immediate medical care—Florida law requires it in order to tap your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. If you wait too long to see a medical provider, you will lose your access to those benefits and will need to rely on your health insurance or other funds. Without PIP benefits, many injured motorists swiftly fall into debt.
The 14-day Rule
Florida’s no-fault insurance scheme requires that injured drivers first seek compensation for medical care and lost wages from their own insurer. Under state law, all drivers must carry at least $10,000 in PIP benefits, which covers up to 80% of your medical expenses and a smaller portion of any lost wages.
However, Florida amended their PIP statute in 2013 to make it harder to receive PIP benefits. In particular, the law requires that injured motorists seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident from a qualified medical provider. If you don’t, then you will lose out on your PIP benefits.
Under the statute, you cannot see any medical provider. Instead, you must receive treatment from one of the following:
- Hospital facility
- Medical doctor
- Doctor of osteopathy
- Emergency transport
Florida’s legislature adopted the 14-day PIP rule to cut down on fraud, under the theory that someone who has been truly injured will seek immediate medical treatment. However, some injuries are slow to develop, and motorists might not be aware that there is a problem until several weeks have passed. To protect yourself, you should immediately see a doctor even if you feel fine immediately after a car crash.
Immediate Treatment also Helps Your Legal Case
Generally, Florida’s no-fault insurance scheme will prevent many injured motorists from bringing a lawsuit against the other driver for their injuries. However, you can still sue in certain situations, such as when you suffer a permanent injury:
- Disfigurement or scarring that is significant and permanent
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
- An injury that, within a reasonable degree of probability, is permanent, other than scarring or disfigurement
In these situations, you can sue to receive full reimbursement of lost wages and medical expenses, as well as for physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Receiving prompt treatment bolsters your case. Your medical records will show the full extent and seriousness of your injuries and can also convince a skeptical jury that your injuries are real. Also, by seeking medical treatment, you are mitigating any damage, which is key to receiving full compensation in a lawsuit.
Speak with a Delray Beach, Florida Automobile Accident Lawyer
As a result of the changes to Florida’s PIP law, insurance carriers have become emboldened to try and deny as many claims as possible. At Earnhart Law in Delray Beach, our auto accident lawyers go up against the state’s largest insurers on a daily basis, and we are here to help you. For a free consultation, call or send us a message through our online contact form.