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Posted 07/19/2023 in Car Accident by Erik Abrahamson

14-Day Accident Law In Florida - What You Need To Know

14-Day Accident Law In Florida - What You Need To Know

If you find yourself involved in an accident, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with Florida's 14-day accident law. This law stipulates that individuals who have suffered injuries must promptly seek medical treatment within 14 days after the accident to be eligible for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage acts as your no-fault insurance, providing financial coverage for medical expenses and certain other damages. Should you have any questions regarding PIP and the 14-day accident law, an experienced Florida car accident lawyer in Tampa will be able to provide their expertise and guidance.

Failing to adhere to this 14-day requirement may have serious implications for your personal injury protection claim. It could potentially impede your ability to receive reimbursement for your damages, resulting in out-of-pocket expenses for you.

Breaking Down Florida’s 14-Day Accident Law

It is strongly recommended to seek medical attention after an accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, so it is crucial to rule out any potential internal damage.

In Florida, the 14-day PIP rule mandates that you undergo an initial medical examination within 14 days of the accident. Failing to do so grants your insurance company the right to reject any subsequent claims filed under your personal injury policy.

You have flexibility in choosing the type of healthcare professional to see, as long as they are qualified. Eligible providers include:

  • Emergency room physicians

  • Medical doctors

  • Chiropractors

  • Dentists

It is important to note that healthcare providers not specifically listed in the law may not fulfill the requirement. For example, the following may not be considered eligible:

  • Massage therapists 

  • Physical therapists 

If you opt to see a massage therapist without visiting a medical doctor, your insurance claim is likely to be denied. You can seek massage therapy on your own, but it will not be reimbursed. The key is to prioritize visiting the emergency room or scheduling an appointment with a doctor to ensure compliance with the 14-day rule.

Some individuals underestimate the significance of this rule and are taken aback when their claims are denied due to a failure to seek timely treatment. The 14-day rule exists for various reasons, including deterring insurance fraud and preventing claims for unrelated injuries.

By waiting two months to see a doctor, an insurance provider can easily deny the claim, arguing that the injuries likely occurred elsewhere. The 14-day rule also promotes prompt medical diagnoses and helps prevent complications.

Payout Limits For Personal Injury Protection Coverage In Florida

Florida's recent amendment to the PIP law has brought about changes to the available benefits under the policy. While a minimum policy amount of $10,000 is required, it does not guarantee that you will receive the full amount following an accident. The maximum benefit you can receive now depends on the severity of your injuries, as determined by the current PIP law.

To qualify for benefits, it is necessary to seek treatment within 14 days. If your injuries are categorized as non-emergency, you may be eligible for up to $2,500 in benefits. However, if your injuries are deemed to be an "emergency medical condition," you can receive the maximum payout allowed by your policy.

It is important to understand that PIP coverage only covers 80% of your medical costs. For example, if you hold a $10,000 PIP policy and your medical expenses total $10,000, you would receive $8,000 under your policy. If your expenses reach $20,000, you would receive the full $10,000.

Furthermore, PIP provides coverage for 60% of your lost wages, up to $10,000. In case of a disability that prevents you from working, it is advisable to include a claim for loss of earnings. This section of the policy also compensates for services that you would typically handle, such as house cleaning and laundry.

Additionally, most personal injury policies include up to $5,000 in death benefits. If the unfortunate event of the policyholder's death occurs, your PIP coverage will cover burial and funeral expenses, along with other applicable benefits.

What Is An Emergency Medical Condition Under Florida’s 14-Day Law?

The definition of an "emergency medical condition" is outlined in Florida Statute section 395.002(8). As per this statute, an emergency condition refers to acute symptoms that necessitate immediate medical attention to prevent:

  • Impairment of a major body function,

  • Endangerment of your health and well-being, or

  • Serious dysfunction of any body part or organ.

Having a discussion with your doctor about your condition after the accident is crucial. They can make a note in your medical records indicating that you have a condition that qualifies for certain benefits under your PIP coverage.

It is not mandatory for these notes to explicitly state that it was an "emergency medical condition." As long as there is evidence showing that you sought treatment within 14 days, you should be entitled to receive some benefits from your policy. Additionally, the determination of whether you have a qualifying condition does not have to be made within the 14-day period. You only need to demonstrate that you sought initial treatment from a qualifying healthcare provider to fulfill the legal requirement.

What Happens If My PIP Claim Is Denied?

Even though you consistently pay monthly premiums for your personal injury protection coverage, it is important to recognize that the insurer may not always grant you the benefits you believe you deserve. Insurance companies have a profit-oriented approach, and thus they will actively seek ways to minimize their payouts whenever possible.

Denials of claims commonly occur due to the following reasons:

  • Failure to seek medical treatment within the stipulated 14-day period.

  • Insufficient evidence substantiating the injuries claimed to be a result of the accident.

  • Lack of a qualifying emergency medical condition.

Fortunately, the availability of telephone and virtual appointments from healthcare providers offers a convenient alternative if attending in-person visits presents challenges. Opting for telehealth appointments is likely to fulfill the 14-day requirement. However, it is advisable to contact your insurance company beforehand to confirm their acceptance of telehealth visits.

Contact A Florida Car Accident Lawyer 

If you find yourself in a car accident in Florida and need help to fulfill the obligations of the 14-day law, it is highly advisable to consult a skilled car accident attorney. They possess the knowledge and expertise to offer valuable guidance and legal representation, ensuring that you meet the necessary requirements within the designated time frame. With an experienced Florida car accident attorney by your side, you can navigate the intricacies of the law, safeguard your rights, and pursue the rightful compensation you deserve. Do not hesitate to reach out to a reputable car accident attorney for the support and assistance you need during this challenging period.

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