Once you’ve been in an auto collision, the countdown on your medical coverage begins.
Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. The screeching tires, sudden impact and the scene of damaged cars can be overwhelming to victims. Many may not even realize they’ve been injured, and even fewer know that, after an auto collision, they’re on the clock.
In Florida, the 14-day rule (Florida Statute 627.736) states that you must get medical care within 14 days if you’re injured in an accident, or your insurance company can deny your claim for medical benefits. That’s why Greg King, founding member and personal injury attorney at King Law Firm, says seeking medical care immediately after an accident is crucial, whether or not you believe you’ve been injured.
“If they go immediately after the accident, get checked out and let the doctor see them, they’ve met the requirement of having a doctor see them within 14 days and they’re not going to lose their PIP benefits,” he explains. “If they wait to see a doctor until they experience symptoms, they might miss that window and end up with no coverage.”
If a person sustains injuries in a traffic accident but doesn’t get medical care within 14 days, there isn’t anything a lawyer can do to get an insurer to cover the costs.
“To be truthful, this rule was set up for 14 days so insurance companies can get out of paying benefits. Many people who, even if they experience some symptoms at the scene of the accident, think in a couple days or weeks they’ll be OK. They go home and treat themselves with over-the-counter medications and heating pads. Two weeks later when they’re not better, they go to the doctor, but because they did not seek treatment in 14 days, under the statute, insurers do not have to pay benefits, even if they’ve paid a premium for PIP coverage for years.”
King says the best time to seek legal counsel after an accident, just like the best time to seek medical care, is right away. Speaking with an experienced attorney arms accident victims with all the knowledge they need to get the coverage they deserve.
“People involved in an accident need to talk to a lawyer immediately to make sure they are doing everything they need to in order to get all of the insurance benefits they pay for from their own insurance company. Let the attorney explain to you what your rights are, what your duties are and what you need to do. For instance, they could explain the 14-day rule to you—most people simply don’t know about that.”
King Law Firm › 2156 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala › (352) 629-8747 › www.kinglawfirm.org