The Florida 14-day accident law refers to legislation mandating that individuals involved in a motor vehicle accident seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident to remain eligible for personal injury protection benefits also known as PIP.
If you recently suffered an injury in an auto accident and have questions about how this Florida law impacts your case, you may need an experienced car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale. Our legal team at Eltringham Law Group can help.
What Is the Purpose of the Florida 14-Day Accident Law?
The purpose of this law is to ensure that accident victims receive prompt medical treatment and to mitigate fraudulent claims. The goal is to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of injuries, potentially leading to faster recovery times. It also helps to establish a clear connection between the accident and the injuries reported, making it easier to access compensation from your insurance providers without pushback. The law requires that any person involved in an auto accident must obtain medical care from a qualified healthcare professional within a maximum of 14 days from the date of the accident.
How Does the Law Impact Personal Injury Protection Coverage?
Under the Florida 14-day accident law, not seeking medical care within the stipulated timeframe makes you ineligible for PIP benefits. It also limits the maximum available benefits for people with non-emergency medical conditions to $2,500. However, the vast majority of automobile accidents cause injuries that are deemed to be an emergency medical condition thus qualifying the victim for the maximum $10,000 PIP benefit.
Emergency medical conditions
If injured in an auto accident and diagnosed with an emergency medical condition, you could be eligible for up to $10,000 in benefits. Under Florida PIP Statutes 627.732 and 627.736, an emergency medical condition presents acute symptoms of severe intensity, potentially including significant pain. It also means a delay in medical attention could seriously jeopardize your health, cause significant impairment to bodily functions, or result in substantial dysfunction of a bodily organ or part.
The Florida PIP 14-day rule explicitly states that the recognition of an emergency medical condition allows the claimant to access the complete PIP benefits. Without an EMC determination, the benefits plummet significantly to $2,500. This stipulation adds another layer of complexity and urgency to the immediate aftermath of an auto accident.
Controversies surrounding EMC determination
The Florida 14-day accident law lacks clear directives for medical professionals to ascertain and document an EMC. The statute’s ambiguity leaves room for interpretation, and the law does not provide explicit guidelines for assessing the severity of medical conditions. This can cloud clinical judgment and documentation processes, creating potential obstacles for patients seeking compensation.
The law also does not describe the specific medical authority responsible for declaring a condition an emergency. Questions arise regarding the roles of different healthcare providers.
If you have questions about the severity of your injuries and whether you qualify for EMC benefits, you can talk to an experienced auto accident lawyer. Our legal team helps victims of negligent drivers get the compensation they need to recover from their physical, emotional, and financial losses.
What if You Have Delayed Injuries?
If you have delayed injuries after an auto accident, causing you to miss the 14-day window for seeking medical care and receiving PIP benefits, you may have another legal option for seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages.
Florida uses a no-fault system for car crashes. However, you can bypass the PIP requirement and file a fault-based claim against the negligent driver if your injuries qualify for the serious injury threshold. The requirements include:
- A permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Scarring or disfigurement caused by your injuries
- Permanent loss of a critical bodily function
When you file a liability claim, you can access compensation for all recoverable economic damages, often substantially more than you can recover through a PIP claim. This includes the total cost of current and future medical expenses, lost wages, damaged property, and any replacement services needed during recovery. You may also have access to non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
How Does Legal Representation Assist With a Personal Injury Claim?
In the aftermath of a car accident, navigating legal complexities and managing physical and emotional recovery can be overwhelming. A personal injury attorney is an important ally, providing professional legal assistance to ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve. Without representation, you must personally handle any insurance claims, negotiations, and potential litigation.
Consider the tasks our attorneys perform beyond handling your case in accordance of the Florida 14-day accident law:
- Investigate the accident: We independently investigate your case to find evidence of negligence and gather police reports, witness statements, and medical records. Sometimes, we enlist the help of experts like accident reconstructionists.
- Evaluate damages: We comprehensively assess the accident’s impact, determining the extent of your physical, emotional, and financial injuries.
- Handle communication with the insurance company: We manage negotiations with adjusters, ensuring you receive a fair settlement and protecting you from exploitation.
- Provide legal guidance: We offer legal advice and insights, guiding you through each stage of the claims process and ensuring you make informed decisions that adhere to legal protocols.
Most auto accident cases settle outside of court. However, should your case make it to the litigation phase, we will prepare your case for trial and represent you in the courtroom.
Contact Our Attorneys for Help Understanding the Florida 14-Day Accident Law
Understanding and adhering to the Florida 14-day accident law is essential for ensuring access to PIP benefits in the event of an accident. At Eltringham Law Group, we understand the laws that govern auto accidents and commit to guiding you through each step of the legal process. Our clients and their families can rely on our unwavering support.
Contact us today in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to schedule a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney.