Steps to Take if You’re Injured in a Car Accident (Part 1)

This begins a series on steps in a car accident case.

You are in a car accident. Hopefully it is not too serious. You are pretty sure it was not your fault. Even though it may not seem serious it is important to call the police. By getting the police involved you are officially getting the nature of the crash down on paper so the other driver cannot change his or her story later. A third party is investigating and will give their opinion as to who was at fault as well.

Next, we would advise that you go to the emergency room. Even if you don’t think it is an emergency, often there are injuries that are there that aren’t apparent at first. It is best to have a doctor look at it and attest to your injuries and advise you on the best course of action to take.

If you do not go to the ER initially, according to Florida law you have only a limited time of 14 days after the accident to go to a medical provider so that you will get your PIP benefits.

What are PIP benefits? Florida is considered to be a no-fault insurance state. This means that when two people get in a car accident, instead of waiting to see who was at fault to determine who pays for the injured party’s medical care, your own insurance company must pay for your care, within a certain limit. This is called Personal Injury Protection. Everyone with car insurance is required to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in PIP.

If you don’t see a doctor within 14 days of the accident, then you will be barred from receiving any benefits. This does not mean that you won’t be reimbursed by the at-fault party once your case is settled. It just means that your own insurance will not have to cover the bills in the meanwhile.

Another catch is that it is actually only 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000 that will be paid by your insurance. The rest you will have to pay and hopefully be reimbursed by the at-fault party once the case is settled. Also, if you have a deductible, you will have to pay that until the bills exceed it.

Finally, the $10,000 is only for what is considered an emergency medical condition. This means that you must have probably had to go to the ER immediately after the crash. If determined that you do not have an emergency medical condition, then you will be reimbursed up to $2,500.

Initially, you must be treated by a licensed doctor, chiropractor or dentist, depending on the injury. They can then refer you to physical therapists and other specialists. Massage therapists and other alternative healers like acupuncturists are not covered.

Photo courtesy of Flickr by injurylawyerssanluisobispo

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