If you’re injured in traffic by a negligent driver in the State of Florida, and you don’t obtain a medical exam within fourteen days, you may not be compensated. After you have been treated for a negligence-related injury, arrange at once to speak with a Miami personal injury lawyer.
What is Florida’s “Fourteen-Day” rule? Along with undergoing a medical exam, what other steps should you take after a south Florida traffic accident? And how can you receive compensation for your personal injury or injuries and your other accident-related losses?
If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the answers to these questions – answers that every driver in Florida needs – and you will also learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in this state.
How Many Traffic Accidents Happen in Florida?
Serious traffic accidents happen far too often in Florida, and more accidents are reported in Miami-Dade County than in any other county in the state.
In fact, in 2018, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 400,000 traffic accidents occurred in this state, more than 250,000 injuries were reported, and more than 3,000 people lost their lives on Florida’s streets and highways.
When an Accident Happens
When a traffic accident happens and you have been injured, you must act at once to protect your rights, because no attorney will be at the accident scene to offer you advice. Try to think clearly, because your legal right to compensation will depend on taking the following steps:
1. Summon medical attention first if you have been injured or if anyone else has been injured. Even if you feel fine, have a checkup within 24 hours if possible. If you take legal action, you will need the medical records that a complete exam provides.
2. Call the police. When they arrive, ask them when and how you will be able to obtain a copy of their written accident report. In Miami-Dade County, you can request a copy of a Miami-Dade Police Department accident report online from policereports.lexisnexis.com.
3. Take photos and try to obtain the names and contact details of any witnesses to the accident. You’ll also need to swap names, contact details, and insurance details with the other driver. Confirm as soon as you can that the information you’ve obtained is accurate.
4. Inform your auto insurance company of the accident, but don’t provide details or make a formal statement. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, accept no quick settlement offer, make no formal statement, and refer the company to your injury lawyer.
5. After you have been examined and treated by a medical professional, put your case in the hands of a south Florida personal injury attorney. Your attorney will explain your rights and negotiate on your behalf for the maximum available compensation.
After an Accident, a Medical Exam is Essential
This cannot be stressed strongly enough: In Florida, if you do not have a medical exam within fourteen days of a traffic crash, your auto insurance company may not be required to compensate you through your PIP coverage and may reject any injury claim that you file at a later time.
A thorough investigation of the accident is essential to establish the cause of the crash and to determine which driver has liability. Do not negotiate with an auto insurance company by yourself. Your health and future are too important to risk.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
Under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system, drivers in this state must have automobile insurance that includes:
1. at least $10,000 of “PIP” (personal injury protection) coverage
2. at least $10,000 of “PDL” (property damage liability) coverage
The Fourteen-Day rule isn’t the only barrier to injury victims who are seeking compensation. When a Florida driver is injured by negligence, the first $10,000 of medical bills and lost wages are supposedly paid from the victim’s personal PIP coverage.
But that’s not the whole story. Although PIP coverage promises $10,000 toward an accident victim’s losses, you are actually limited to only $2,500 from that coverage unless you can show that you are suffering with what Florida law calls an emergency medical condition or “EMC.”
If you are injured by a negligent driver, you comply with the Fourteen-Day rule, and you are diagnosed with an emergency medical condition, you’re entitled to receive eighty percent of your medical costs up to $10,000 (in other words, up to $8,000) from your PIP insurance.
When Can You Take Legal Action?
If you sustain a severe spinal cord injury, a traumatic brain injury, or any other long-term or permanent injury in a south Florida traffic collision, you will need considerably more than $8,000 of compensation.
However, under Florida law, an injured victim of negligence may take legal action to hold a negligent driver accountable only when one or more of the following apply:
1. The victim’s injuries are permanent.
2. The victim’s injuries include significant scarring or disfigurement.
3. The victim’s injuries include a permanent loss of a basic bodily function.
Why is an Attorney’s Help So Important?
With all of Florida’s conditions and rules for recovering compensation, an injured victim of negligence will need sound legal advice and guidance from the very beginning of the legal process.
Although Florida’s statute of limitations gives a negligence victim four years to take legal action, you should not wait four years – or even four weeks – to schedule a meeting with a personal injury lawyer.
In fact, immediately after you have been seen by a healthcare professional, arrange to have a south Florida accident attorney explain how the law applies in your own circumstances. Your first consultation with an accident lawyer comes with no cost or obligation.
What Will It Cost to Start the Legal Process?
A Miami personal injury lawyer works on a contingent fee basis, which means that you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney obtains an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
After considering the details of your case, your lawyer can discuss how the law applies and recommend the best way to proceed.
If you and your attorney move forward with a legal action, you could acquire complete compensation for your current and future medical costs, lost earnings and lost earnings capacity, pain and suffering, and all other related losses and damages.