Personal Injury Protection coverage is something that confuses many. It can even become more confusing when involved in an auto accident. Why you ask? Well, you might have heard this before, but Florida is a “No Fault” state which simply means, that no matter who causes an accident or “is at fault”, your car insurance will pay for your injuries. In Florida, while we are one of only a few states not required to carry bodily injury coverage (see my blog post on that topic) you are required to carry Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage. This affords you a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage, regardless of who is at fault.
If you own a car in Florida and have it insured, then this PIP coverage will kick in. The coverage, however, does have some requirements that must be met. Probably the most important is the “14 Day Rule”. This is where you must be your own advocate and take care of yourself, regardless of how tough you might be or your financial status. I know that might sound a bit harsh, but believe me, I say it with the best intentions. You see, I have dealt with many clients who are tough and never go to a doctor unless they are on death’s doorstep. I have dealt with clients who are so busy taking care of their children and family that they don’t make time to take care of themselves. I have dealt with clients who are in a financial situation that prevents them from just hopping over to the doctor to get things looked at and have dealt with clients who honestly, are frightened of going to the doctor and avoid it at all costs. If you fall into one of these categories, then you must put that aside after an accident and seek immediate treatment.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and just take care of yourself. Remember, you might feel some discomfort immediately after the accident or even high levels of pain, but as the adrenaline wears off, your body will become more aware of the injuries you have sustained. Don’t regret not being seen immediately after the accident and put yourself at risk for serious injuries that need treatment. Many traumatic brain injuries present symptoms not right after the blow or jolt to the head, rather, become apparent days later. Going and having immediate treatment can many times detect these injuries and give you the treatment you need, right when you need it. If for nothing else, it is the right way to document your injuries and take care of yourself!
One of the most important take aways from this post is that you have a time limit to seek treatment. The Florida Legislature passed the 14-day rule that states you MUST seek treatment for injuries sustained in an automobile accident within two weeks or you might be ineligible for PIP benefits. You MUST seek treatment and it MUST be by a medical doctor, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, a dentist, a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant or a Chiropractor.
Now, don’t run off yet, there is still another condition that must be met. On top of this 14 day rule to seek treatment with the above mentioned providers, your provider must determine you have an Emergency Medical Condition. According to Florida Statute 395.002(8), an Emergency Medical Condition “Manifests itself by acute systems, symptoms, or sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate attention would be reasonably expected to result in any of the following: serious jeopardy to the patient’s health, serious impairment to bodily function, serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part”.
If you go to the ER following your accident, they will most likely make that determination there. If not, please follow up with one of the above practitioners as quickly as you can to discuss and document your injuries. If your initial treatment is for a medical condition diagnosed as an “Emergency Medical Condition”, your Personal Injury Protection will provide coverage for follow up treatment that is related to your diagnosed conditions. Just a side note, PIP does not cover massage therapy and acupuncture.
The take away here, you have the coverage…why not use it for your injuries…regardless of who is at fault. Take care of you and don’t let the adrenaline following an accident convince you that you are fine. If you don’t need ambulance transport to the ER, consider going home and resting and then following up with an urgent care facility the next morning. To learn more about PIP coverage in Florida, get in touch today and schedule a consultation.