After a car accident or personal injury experiences, such as a dog bite or slip and fall, some people are transported to a hospital with serious injuries and will receive immediate medical attention. Others may have minor scrapes, bumps or sprains and may choose to visit their doctor or an urgent care center later. Yet others leave the scene of the accident feeling fine but later develop neck or back pain, stiffness, headaches and more.
When you are not taken to the hospital after an accident, there are two questions:
- Should you go to the doctor; and
- How soon after the accident or injury should you go?
Car Accident Cases: Yes – Got to the Doctor within 14 days
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance requirements there is a 14-day time limit for seeing a doctor after a car accident. Under the law, personal injury protection insurance (PIP) may pay up to $10,000 for medical treatment for injuries caused in the accident. If your injuries were diagnosed as an emergency medical condition (EMC), you may receive up to $10,000 PIP coverage. For other injuries, you may receive up to $2,500. This coverage will not be available to you at all unless you see a doctor within 14 days of an accident.
Personal Injury Cases: Yes – Go to the Doctor as Soon as Possible
Even though there is no legal requirement that you seek medical attention, there are many reasons to go to a doctor as soon as possible after any type of personal injury event:
- To be evaluated by a medical professional.
- To treat known injuries.
- To diagnosis latent problems that are likely to become more serious over time, such as a concussion, neck injury, and more.
- To document the injuries and the fact that they were caused by the accident.
- To be eligible for insurance payments.
Other Reasons Not to Wait
Although the 14-day rule to visit a doctor is established in Florida’s no-fault insurance rules after a car accident, there are many reasons why you should visit a doctor as soon as possible after any type of personal injury situation:
- Latent Injuries. Concussions, brain injuries, neck or spinal trauma, soft tissue damage, ligament tears and more can occur during a car accident but these injuries can be painful and devastating. To get the best care as quickly as possible, be evaluated by a physician soon.
- Waiting can Impact Recovery. If you know you sprained your wrist or suspect you may have injured your neck, the longer you wait to see a doctor, the longer your recovery will take. The longer the recovery, the more expensive the care.
- Loss of Income. Waiting to see a doctor can delay recovery, which may impact your ability to return to work, care for your family, and more.
- Impact on Insurance – Car Accidents. Many people carry additional insurance coverage beyond the no-fault coverage required by Florida and delaying treatment may make you ineligible to file these additional insurance claims.
- Impact on Insurance –Personal Injury. Many insurance companies will not pay a claim or pay only nominal damages if you don’t visit a doctor within a few days after the incident.
- Impact on a Lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit against the other party, any delay in seeking medical help may be used against you. The defendant will argue that your injuries could not have been that serious since you waited so long to receive care.
What to do After a Car Accident
If you’ve been in an accident, regardless of the extent of your injuries, you should:
- File an accident report with law enforcement to document what happened to you.
- See a qualified doctor about all possible related injuries within the 14-day time window.
- If you believe your injuries are due to the reckless actions or poor decisions of another, we urge you to at least speak with an experienced car accident lawyer who can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.
- Seeking medical care and legal advice after an accident is always the best course of action.
What to do After a Personal Injury
If you’ve experienced physical harm do the actions or inactions of someone else, regardless of the extent of your injuries, you should:
- File an accident report with law enforcement, if appropriate, to document what happened to you.
- Write down the names and contact information of witnesses.
- See a qualified doctor about all possible related injuries as soon as possible.
- If you believe your injuries are due to the reckless actions or poor decisions of another, we urge you to at least speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and present options for next steps to be taken.