If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident, you are well aware of the many ramifications — seeking medical attention, filing a claim with your insurance company, getting an estimate for car repairs, and dealing with the other party’s insurance company, to name a few. Added to the regular stressors of daily life, you may be tempted to put some of those items on the back burner — especially if the accident was relatively minor and you think you’re fine. But, is there a time limitation to getting some of them done? What happens if you take too long to see a doctor? Could an insurance company deny your claim because of it?
The 14-Day Rule and Why It Matters
Florida Statutes Chapter 627.736 requires every car insurance policy in the state to include Personal Injury Protection. Also known as PIP, this type of coverage provides protection to certain individuals:
- The named insured
- Relatives residing in the same household
- Persons operating the motor vehicle
- Passengers in the motor vehicle
- Other persons struck by the motor vehicle
This type of protection covers 80% of medical bills up to $10,000 and up to $5,000 in death benefits. The medical expenses have to be reasonable and medically necessary — and it includes ambulance transportation, medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, prosthetics, and rehabilitative costs. These services must be provided by a licensed physician, dentist, or chiropractor.
One of the best features of PIP is that it kicks in regardless of who was at fault for the accident. That being said, insurance companies are required to provide such coverage if the person filing the claim does so within 14 days after the car accident. Calling in to file a claim on day 15 or later means that you’ll be time-barred and your claim will be denied.
What’s the purpose of the 14-day rule?
The 14-day rule was established to protect you and your insurance company. The reason why that language was included in the statute serves two purposes:
1. It Minimizes the Risk of Insurance Fraud
The longer you wait to seek medical care, the more likely it would be that another incident may have caused injuries. For example, if you develop neck or back pain three weeks or a month after a car accident, the culprit could be many things — working out, manual labor, carrying heavy groceries, playing sports, picking up your kids, etc. Failing to include such a time limitation would make it easier for individuals to blame any injury on a past car accident.
2. It Keeps Costs Down
Even if your injury was indeed caused by the accident, waiting too long to seek medical care could cause existing injuries to worsen — in turn increasing medical costs. The best way to prevent this from happening is to always seek care. Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s possible for adrenaline after the accident to mask symptoms of damage to organs, bones, or soft tissue. It is best to cover your bases by having a medical professional examine you.
What if PIP doesn’t cover all your damages?
While Personal Injury Protection is mandatory, it only covers 80% of your medical bills. You could add Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay) as optional coverage to close that gap. The limits of MedPay will depend on how much coverage you purchased when you chose your insurance coverage. If you don’t have MedPay and/or your damages exceed $10,000, you will have to file a claim against the other driver. Never attempt to do this on your own. Even if the adjuster sounds friendly and understanding, their job is to keep their liability as low as possible — which means a high probability that they will deny your claim or lowball you. They could also use your statements against you to make it seem like you may have been fully or partly to blame for the accident.
If you got into a car accident and were not at fault, let us help you.
Every car accident is different. There are many factors that determine the drivers’ level of liability. Let’s discuss your case, we’ll look for ways to have all of your expenses covered — for present and future treatment — as long as they relate to the accident.
At Carey, Leisure & Neal, we have more than three decades of combined experience successfully representing clients involved in car accidents. All of our attorneys are accessible and Board Certified in civil trial law. Contact us online or call us at 727-799-3900 to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.