By their very nature, nobody expects accidents. They can damage your health, interrupt your life, cause you to miss work, and take away your hobbies. No one is prepared for the life changes that result from an accident, and as such, many of those injured in accidents will try to cut short or speed up their recoveries to get their lives back on track. Not only might this impair your overall health, it may reduce the chances and amount of your compensation.
Florida No-Fault Insurance Law
As a no-fault state, Florida requires drivers to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury coverage to pay for medical expenses that arise from car accidents. This coverage is primary regardless of who is at-fault for the accident. The no-fault law encourages injured drivers to seek immediate medical treatments, because a no-fault insurer must cover all of your medical expenses up to the limits of your selected policy. This helps you avoid the hassle of a medical lien or waiting for another driver’s liability insurance to pay your expenses. Even if you do not have medical insurance, no-fault insurance will act in its place after a car accident. Accordingly, if a car accident injured you in Florida, do not fear going to the hospital and seeking further treatments.
Common Delayed Onset Injuries
Immediately after a car accident, your body may enter a survival mode, which causes a release of adrenaline and epinephrine. During an adrenaline rush, as it is often called, your body releases hormones that help focus your attention on survival and increase blood flow to vital organs. This causes your body not to focus on any pain it might feel, which can mask the severity of your injuries at the scene. Furthermore, certain injuries may not manifest until a few days after an accident even though the crash caused them. The following delayed onset injuries commonly arise after car accidents:
- Whiplash, a type of neck or shoulder stiffness and pain
- Back pain caused by damage to ligaments and nerves
- Abdominal pain, including deep bruising, a sign of internal bleeding that an emergency room should immediately treat
- Confusion and loss of motor skills, signs of traumatic brain injury that an emergency room should also immediately treat
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Accordingly, even if you do not believe a car accident severely injured you or damaged your car, immediately seek medical treatment. An emergency room is your best choice if you experience any head or abdominal pain. Furthermore, the resulting medical records may form an essential part of your legal case—even if you were seriously injured, without sufficient medical records you can’t prove your claims.
Medical Treatments and Your Legal Case
If you believe you have a claim for personal injuries as the result of a car accident, you should always seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room, walk-in clinic, or your physician’s office. If you wait until your symptoms manifest before seeking treatment, which can be hours, days, or even weeks after the accident, you may reduce your chance of recovery for the late onset injuries you sustained. The less of a gap between the time of the accident and the time you seek treatment, the stronger you will make your case, because an insurance company can’t so easily argue that the accident did not cause your injuries. Furthermore, if you fail to seek treatment for injuries and they worsen as a result, this may reduce the amount you can recover in a successful legal action.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, putting your health first after a serious accident can always provide your personal injury attorney with the documentation necessary to show that your injuries meet the legal standard for recovery of compensation known as “threshold.”
Four categories of injuries in Florida meet the threshold standard:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important body function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scars or disfigurement
The principle behind threshold is that the insurance policy limits should provide sufficient compensation for insignificant or impermanent injuries. If they do not, you may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and, ultimately, a court may adjudicate your claims.
Although litigation can take longer than settling your claim early with the liable insurance company, it may also result in greater compensation. Speak with your Clearwater car accident attorney about your options. While your attorney can generally handle negotiations with the liable insurance company without your direct involvement, litigation could require your testimony, additional evidence, and possible court appearances during the course of years.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss your Options
Whether it’s simply applying for no-fault benefits, negotiating a settlement with the liable insurance company, or bringing litigation in a Florida court, a qualified personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process so you can make the right decision for you and your family. You deserve compensation for your injuries and lost wages so that you can live a full life after your car accident. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help analyze the facts of your case and explain your options for financial recovery under Florida law. Contact us online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756