Automobile Accident? Get Checked Out!

BY GEORGE M. STARK, P.A.

It is not uncommon for automobile accident-related injuries to linger, even if they appear to be minor.

Some people adopt a “John Rambo” mentality, believing that their discomfort will disappear without medical or chiropractic intervention. That mentality gives way to the reality that evaluation and treatment is needed, when discomfort continues or intensifies, as is often the case.

It comes as no surprise that people are affected differently by trauma sustained in automobile accidents. Some people are simply more susceptible to injury and less likely to heal without intervention than others. Given the disparity of the manner in which people react to accident-related trauma, I strongly recommend that those injured in automobile accidents be evaluated and treated, if necessary, at a hospital emergency room, urgent care facility or their family physician, as soon as practical after the accident.

Florida Statute 627.736 referred to as the “No Fault Law” provides for the payment of healthcare for those injured in automobile accidents, regardless of fault. This means that one’s own insurance company will pay 80% of the healthcare expenses incurred.

In an effort to address what has been characterized as “massive fraud” in the reporting and processing of automobile accident injury claims, and to lower automobile insurance premiums, the Florida Legislature amended the No Fault Law last year, resulting in significant changes which became effective on January 1, 2013.

Without commenting on the need for, or the merit of these amendments, they provide in pertinent part that the care and treatment for automobile accident-related injuries must be obtained within 14 days following the accident. Charges for healthcare services following an automobile accident that are not commenced within 14 days after the accident, will not be paid for under the No Fault Law, as amended.

It is thought that the practical effect of this change in the law will be to encourage those who would normally adopt a wait and see approach, to the provision of healthcare services, to obtain medical treatment within the 14-day window, or lose up to $10,000.00 of insurance benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled.

Thus, the “John Rambo’s” in Florida are placed on notice to either use their automobile accident benefits by seeking care and treatment within 14 days after the accident, or lose them.

In the event that this law encourages those who might otherwise have been inclined to “grin and bear it” to seek and receive needed healthcare services in a timely manner that would be a welcome, but unanticipated result of the recent amendment of the No Fault Law. In our view, establishing an arbitrary 14-day time limitation within which an injured person must use their insurance benefits or lose them, is in derogation of one’s right to contract, and is anti-consumer legislation.

In summary, in the event that you experience pain and/or discomfort after an automobile accident, no matter who was at fault, we strongly suggest that you obtain appropriate treatment for your injury within the 14-day time frame now proscribed by Florida law.

Published on: Jun 2, 2016