What Is Florida’s 14-Day Rule?

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Florida has some of the highest car accident rates in the country. In 2017, 3,116 people lost their lives in Florida car crashes. For most drivers in the state, the question is not if they will get into accidents, but when. After a collision, victims will need to navigate the state’s no-fault insurance laws. One issue claimants often encounter during personal injury protection (PIP) insurance claims is Florida’s 14-day rule.

What Is Florida’s 14-Day Rule?

Florida’s 14-day rule gives car accident victims 14 days after their accidents to obtain medical care. The rule comes from Florida Statutes Section 627.736, outlining the no-fault system. It states that an individual must receive initial medically necessary services and care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident to qualify for medical benefits. Failure to do so can give the insurance company the right to deny the individual’s claim for medical benefits.

Delaying medical care after a car accident could hurt you physically and financially. Waiting to see a doctor could worsen your prognosis and make minor injuries more serious. A laceration, for example, could develop an infection, or a brain injury could go undiagnosed and untreated. Waiting could also show an insurance company your injuries were not very serious, or put up a red flag for insurance fraud. In Florida, waiting longer than two weeks could bar you from insurance benefits.

See a doctor after a car accident in Florida whether you feel injured or not. Some common car accident injuries have delayed or hidden symptoms that may not be apparent right away. You may need a medical exam and scans to reach a diagnosis. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may not show outward signs in the first few hours or days, but could be causing bleeding or swelling in the brain. Prompt medical care can ensure you receive treatment for your injuries, before it is too late.

How to File a Claim Within Florida’s No-Fault System

Florida’s 14-day deadline on receiving medical care comes from the state’s no-fault insurance system. Florida is one of only 12 states in the country that follows a non-tort based system for car accident claims. The no-fault system instructs victims of auto accidents to file claims with their own insurance companies, whether they caused the accident or not.

Every driver in the state must purchase adequate car insurance. Drivers will then turn to these policies for benefits for medical costs and property damages after a crash, regardless of fault. Call 911 and report the crash to authorities from the scene if it caused injuries, deaths, or property damage. Request an ambulance if you or someone else has noticeable injuries.

If you are not sure whether you have injuries, say this to police officers when they arrive. Do not assume you do not have injuries before you have seen a doctor. Either take an ambulance from the scene or visit your primary care doctor as soon as you can after the crash. Keep copies of your medical records and hospital bills. Call your auto insurance provider shortly after your collision, typically within 24 hours. Follow all the steps to filing a claim, including giving the agent information about your crash and related injuries.

You must seek medical care within 14 days of the car accident for your insurance company to consider your claim. Otherwise, you could face a claim denial. If you do not discover your injuries until later than two weeks from the collision, you may be an exception to the 14-day rule. Discuss your options with a car accident attorney. If you wish to appeal an insurance claim denial, a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer can help with this process in Florida as well.