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How Long Do I Have to Get Medical Care After an Auto Accident?

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Posted on June 14, 2022

Automobile accidents are the number one cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States. A vehicle collision can cause many injuries, including broken bones, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and burn injuries. Seeking medical care is one of the most important steps to take after being involved in an auto accident in Florida.

What Is Florida’s 14-Day Rule?

Under Florida Statutes Section 627.736(1)(a), an insurance policyholder must receive medical care for injuries connected to a car accident within 14 days of the crash to be eligible for medical benefits. Medical benefits refer to the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance required of all Florida drivers. This is a type of first-party car insurance, meaning it covers the policyholder (not the other driver).

The 14-day rule states that a limit of $10,000 in medical and disability benefits are available from an insurance company as long as the individual receives initial care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident. If initial services and care are received within two weeks, the insurer must provide PIP benefits to cover all necessary medical, surgical, dental, x-ray and rehabilitative care.

Why You Should See a Doctor Immediately After an Auto Accident in Florida

Although state law gives you a deadline of 14 days, it is in your best interest to seek medical attention sooner. Delaying medical care can be dangerous for your physical well-being. If you have a serious injury such as bleeding or swelling in your brain, for example, prompt treatment is critical for your survival. You may not notice the symptoms of a life-threatening injury right away; however, a doctor can conduct tests to diagnose an injury and provide the treatment that you need right away.

Getting medical care immediately after your crash can also strengthen your insurance claim. Although you have 14 days, it is not uncommon for an insurance company to try to reduce a claimant’s payout by claiming that he or she failed to mitigate (reduce) his or her related losses. An insurance company may use your delay in medical care against you to allege that your injuries would have been less severe had you seen a doctor immediately. The best way to protect yourself physically and legally is to go to a hospital on the day of the crash.

Who Pays for Medical Bills in a Car Accident in Florida?

Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, where all injured crash victims seek insurance coverage from their own car insurance companies, regardless of fault. In fault states, the driver at fault for causing a crash pays for related bills through his or her insurer. The only exception to Florida’s no-fault rule is if you suffer serious injuries in the crash, such as the loss of an important bodily function or permanent scarring and disfigurement.

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How Long Do You Have to File a PIP Claim in Florida?

You should notify your car insurance company of a car accident as soon as possible to qualify for PIP coverage. Although many car insurance providers don’t have specific deadlines, they require prompt crash reporting, meaning they must be notified of the accident within a reasonable amount of time. It is generally best to contact your car insurer within 24 to 72 hours of the accident to make your initial crash report.

If you suffered significant or permanent injuries or a loved one passed away in a fatal car accident in Florida, you may be eligible for financial benefits from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Although most car accident cases in Florida reach settlements, there is a chance that you will need to file a lawsuit for your car accident if the insurer is refusing to pay a fair amount for your losses. Florida’s statute of limitations gives you a maximum of four years from the date of your car crash to file a lawsuit. The simplest way to make sure you meet all of the deadlines involved in your case in Florida is by working with a Tampa car accident attorney.