In 2015, more than 2,900 deaths and over 243,000 serious injuries happened in traffic crashes on Florida’s streets and highways. Even the safest drivers in Florida are at risk. What happens after a Florida traffic accident? Keep reading, and you will learn the basics about “no-fault” and “PIP” auto insurance. You’ll learn what you must do if you are injured in a Florida traffic wreck, and you’ll also learn about the important “14-day rule.”
The state of Florida requires every motorist to carry at least $10,000 in “PIP” or personal injury protection coverage as well as at least $10,000 in “PDL” or property damage liability insurance. Florida’s no-fault system was designed to protect motorists and passengers who are injured in traffic collisions without regard to which driver was responsible for the accident.
After a traffic injury in Florida, if you were driving, your own PIP insurance will automatically cover the first $10,000 of your medical expenses and lost income, and it does not matter who caused the accident. Accident victims can sue negligent motorists only when their damages exceed $10,000 and only when their injuries are deemed permanent, when substantial disfigurement or scarring happened, or when an important bodily function has been lost.
HOW ARE PASSENGERS COVERED IN FLORIDA?
If you are injured as a passenger, your coverage depends on several factors: If you have your own PIP policy, you must submit your claim to your own auto insurance company. If you do not drive, but you live with a blood relative who has PIP insurance, you must submit your claim to that relative’s auto insurer.
If you do not have auto insurance in the state of Florida, and if you do not live with a blood relative who has auto insurance in Florida, only then may you submit an injury claim to the automobile insurance company that insures the vehicle you were traveling in when you were injured.
Obviously, if you sustain a catastrophic or disabling personal injury because another motorist was negligent, $10,000 will only be the beginning of what you’ll need. Spinal injuries, brain injuries, and injuries requiring amputation will require the maximum possible compensation amount.
WHY IS MEDICAL ATTENTION IMPERATIVE AFTER ANY ACCIDENT?
Remember, accident victims in Florida may only sue negligent motorists when their injuries are permanent or permanently disfiguring. If you are involved in an accident with a negligent driver, seek medical attention at once – whether or not you believe you are injured. You may need the medical records later for legal reasons, and some injuries are latent or hard to detect without a comprehensive examination. Be safe – not sorry.
You also must inform your auto insurance company about any collision, but if your injury is serious, do not make a claim or a statement when you report the accident, and do not sign any paperwork from an insurance company. Instead, put your case in the hands of a Stuart personal injury attorney, and allow your attorney – an experienced negotiator – to handle the discussions with your auto insurance company.
Anyone who has been injured in a Florida traffic collision also must know about the “14-day rule” and the civil statute of limitations. PIP insurance in Florida entitles an accident victim to coverage for 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses up to the $10,000 limit, but a crash victim must be treated within fourteen days of the accident.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WITHOUT MEDICAL ATTENTION AFTER A CRASH?
If you avoid a medical examination after a crash, but your back starts to ache or seize up fifteen or sixteen days later, your PIP coverage will not cover you – and that goes for any kind of latent or hard-to-detect injury, not just back trouble. For legal reasons, insurance reasons, and your own well-being, you must have a medical examination within the first fourteen days after even a minor accident.
This cannot be stressed too strongly. In the state of Florida, under the current law, you could end up paying directly from your own pocket for medical expenses – with no insurance coverage or legal recourse – if you do not have a medical examination in the first fourteen days after a traffic crash.
You may be examined by your personal doctor, chiropractor, or another healthcare provider, or you can also visit a walk-in clinic or an ER. Sometimes, the care provided by paramedics at the scene of an accident will satisfy the 14-day rule. Talk with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been examined, and your attorney will see to it that your rights are protected – and that you are thoroughly prepared to take legal action if necessary.
WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT FOR FILING A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT?
Because accident victims in Florida may take legal action only when injuries are permanent or permanently disfiguring, an experienced Stuart personal injury attorney can review your circumstances and advise you regarding a lawsuit. Florida has established a four-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits arising from traffic collisions.
Of course, that four-year statute of limitations should not be a concern, because if you’ve been injured in a vehicle crash, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after you’ve been examined by a healthcare provider. Then, you’ll need to adhere to the recommendations of your healthcare provider and your personal injury lawyer.
WHAT COMPENSATION CAN VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE RECEIVE?
If you have been injured by negligence in Florida, and you can prove it, you are entitled to full compensation, and the law will be on your side. With a personal injury lawsuit, your accident-related medical expenses and lost wages may be reimbursed, along with compensation for pain and suffering and other accident-related damages.
Stuart personal injury attorney Jordan R. Wagner summarizes seven important details to remember about no-fault insurance in Florida:
– You have $10,000 in limits that pays for medical bills if there is treatment within the first 14 days and if there is an emergency medical condition.
– If no treatment within the first 14 days – there is no coverage.
– If treatment within the first 14 days and no emergency medical condition – there is only $2,500 in coverage.
– Does not cover all medical treatment (massage therapy is an example).
– It does not pay the medical bills “dollar for dollar” but only 80 percent of the allowed amount.
– You are still responsible for the deductible and the 20 percent difference.
– Those outstanding bills, amongst everything else, are why you need an experienced lawyer to pursue the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In Florida, if your injuries after a traffic accident are deemed serious enough to qualify you for a personal injury lawsuit, you must put your case in the hands of a trustworthy and experienced Florida personal injury lawyer. About ninety percent of personal injury cases are negotiated and settled by the attorneys – outside of the courtroom – before a trial even begins.
When you recover from serious injuries, your health must be your primary concern. Let an experienced personal attorney negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and take your case to court if necessary – while you focus on recuperation. If you’ve been seriously injured by a negligent driver in Florida, it’s your right.