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Auto Accident Injury

*Please see some important information on auto accidents and Florida Law below.

Sooner or later, nearly every American will be involved in an automobile accident at least once in their lives.  For the most part, people involved in accidents walk away with no more than minor scrapes and bruises.  Or at least they think they’ve escaped serious injury.

All too often, however, accident victims may not have pain or symptoms of injury in the moment, but may have sustained injuries that may not cause immediate pain – or even symptoms that could be observed during a visit to the emergency room.

These types of injuries can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years to become evident. 

There is a mistaken idea that the extent of vehicle damage can indicate the extent of injury caused to those in the vehicle.  The thing is, a car’s bumper can absorb significant force, but the impact from the crash is transferred to the body, especially the head and neck, of the driver and passengers.

This is similar to the way that energy is transferred when one billiard ball hits a second.  What you may not know is that an untreated neck or back injury, even one that isn’t painful, can lead to arthritis or other injury, causing pain, weakness, and eventual degeneration.

If you sustain whiplash, you may experience stiffness in the neck and shoulders, numbness in arms or fingers, back pain, and recurring headaches.  These are the kinds of symptoms most people normally think of. But whiplash can also cause dizziness and irritability.  If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident and may have suffered whiplash, with or without these symptoms, please visit us to be evaluated. We take most forms of medical insurance and are happy to work with your insurance company to help you get the treatment you need and deserve.

Call or schedule an online appointment today for a Free Consultation to make sure you get the medical treatment you deserve.

*Some important information you should know about Florida Law when it comes to auto accidents...

  • Some of our readers may know that the Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law was amended in 2013. There were a number of changes to the statute but, arguably, the change that most impacted insureds across the State is the requirement that individuals claiming PIP benefits must receive treatment within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident.

The previous PIP law had no such requirement. An insured could theoretically receive PIP benefits for treatment initiated at any time after the occurrence motor vehicle accident. The insurance company would likely dispute the “relatedness” of the treatment to the motor vehicle accident, however there was no such time limitation on when an insured had to begin treating.
The 2013 PIP law requires an individual claiming PIP benefits to “receive initial services and care” within “14 days after the motor vehicle accident.”

“Initial services and care” is defined as services and care that are lawfully provided, supervised, ordered, or prescribed by any of the following health care providers:

1. A medical doctor, commonly referred to as an M.D., licensed under Chapter 458 of the Florida Statutes;
2. A doctor of osteopathy, commonly referred to as a D.O., licensed under Chapter 459 of the Florida Statutes;
3. A dentist licensed under Chapter 466 of the Florida Statutes;
4. A chiropractor, commonly referred to as a D.C., licensed under Chapter 460 of the Florida Statutes;
5. A person or entity licensed under Part III of Chapter 401 of the Florida Statutes (an emergency medical technician, commonly referred to as an “EMT”) that provides emergency transportation and treatment.

Thus, in order to qualify for PIP benefits, you must treat within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident with any of the five enumerated providers listed above. Therefore, going to your massage therapist, your acupuncturist or your physical therapist within 14 days after your accident will not by itself qualify you for PIP benefits under the 2013 PIP law.

  • Florida follows a "no-fault" when it comes to the payment of auto insurance claims after a car accident. In a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry auto insurance that pays personal injury protection, or PIP, benefits. When the policyholder suffers an accident, the PIP benefits in the policy pay for any medical expenses and certain non-medical-related costs associated with the accident -- like lost wages and the costs of hiring someone to do household chores (known as "replacement benefits").
  • All Florida drivers are required to carry minimum PIP benefits in their policies.  When a crash occurs, each person involved in the crash turns to his or her own policy to pay the costs of medical care and other losses.  These benefits kick in regardless of who was at fault in the accident.  By contrast, in an "at-fault" insurance state (also known as a "fault" or "tort liability" state), drivers may choose whether to file claims with their own insurers, file claims with another driver's insurer, or take the other driver to court to prove he or she was the one at fault, and therefore the one responsible for paying the costs of the accident.
  • Florida drivers are required to carry the following minimum insurance:

  • $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and
  • $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits.
  • Unlike most other U.S. states, Florida does not require drivers to have bodily injury liability (BIL) benefits (which pay the costs of others' injuries if a crash occurs). All auto insurance policies must be purchased from insurers licensed to do business in Florida.   Driving without insurance in Florida is illegal, and a driver may have his or her license suspended if caught driving without at least the minimum required insurance. To get a license reinstated, a driver has to show proof of insurance on every vehicle owned in the state of Florida, and must pay a fine of up to $500 per violation.
  • Florida drivers can only step outside of the state's no-fault system -- and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly -- if the injuries resulting from the accident are considered "permanent," if significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement occurs, or if significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function results from the crash.

Florida drivers are not required to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This kind of coverage must be offered by an insurer at the time a policy is purchased in Florida, but the purchaser can reject UIM coverage as long as they decline in writing. UIM coverage pays additional PIP benefits if a policyholder is hit by a driver who does not have any insurance (uninsured) or who does not have enough insurance to cover the costs of the policyholder's medical bills and other damages.

For more information visit our Blog as Dr. Baird breaks down Florida's 14 day rule.

If you have any questions, we're here to help, call or schedule an online appointment today for a Free Consultation to make sure you get the medical treatment you deserve.

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