It’s happened. You were in a car accident. You have an injury. It wasn’t your fault, but it also wasn’t catastrophic.
You decline treatment by the paramedics and skip the ambulance ride. A few hours later, though, your neck starts to bother you. Then your shoulder starts to ache, too.
The nagging injury pain doesn’t go away
It’s still bothersome the next day, and you’re not sure if it’ll go away on its own. But you’re still not inclined to go to the emergency room.
The next day, you get a voicemail from the other guy’s insurance company requesting a call back to discuss what happened. They sound seemingly concerned.
You’re tempted to call back, but you’re also not sure what to do. Jump on it and be done with it, or hold off and wait and see? Put another way, is time really of the essence, or do you give yourself some time?
The involvement of insurance companies
First, there’s no rush to get on the phone with the other driver’s insurance company. In fact, you are under no obligation to speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. My best advice is don’t do it! (By contrast, you do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company, but more about that later.)
Keep in mind that while generally insurance companies welcome premium dollars, they (not surprisingly) don’t like to pay claims. In this case, the goal of a call from the insurance company is typically two-fold. First, they’d like to pin you down to your story (what happened in the accident and what injuries you did or did not suffer); and second, ideally, settle your case with you – as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible.
You, on the other hand, don’t yet have a full sense of what’s going to happen with your injuries. Therefore, to quickly settle is often unwise. My recommendation is to take some time, at a minimum.
Consult an injury attorney
Under the circumstances, the better step would be to discuss your particular situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Take advantage of the fact that nearly all injury attorneys offer free consultations.
At our firm, consultations are free, and your meeting will be with either me or my law partner (i.e., not with an investigator or staff person).
And in the event that you hire us, we’ll assume responsibility for (among many other things) communicating with the insurance companies, including overseeing any statements your insurance company might request from you, the insured (with the aforementioned duty of cooperation).
Time is of the essence for your injury
Don’t delay — as soon as possible, get yourself to the doctor to get your injuries assessed. The most important reason to do so is simple: so you can get whatever medical attention and care you need to start healing and feeling better. Sometimes the healing happens quickly, but other times, it takes time and so the sooner, the better.
Even waiting a couple of days can be problematic from a more pragmatic perspective.
Waiting to seek treatment is commonly raised by the insurance company as an indication that you weren’t really that hurt.
Along with that, Florida’s No-Fault laws require that those injured in a car accident suffer a threshold injury in order to recover for things such as pain and suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life (aka non-economic damages).
Delays in seeking treatment, like gaps in treatment, can undermine your ability to meet that threshold and ultimately your recovery.
Waiting too long puts benefits in jeopardy
Waiting more than two weeks to get to the doctor creates a needless problem in the form of lost insurance benefits you have paid for.
As a “no-fault” state, Floridians carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance, which provides up to $10,000 in insurance benefits that help pay for medical care. The important proviso is that Florida’s No-Fault/PIP laws require treatment must be sought no later than 14 days after the accident.
Paying premiums for mandatory PIP coverage and then losing all $10,000 of those benefits because you missed the 14-day deadline is a costly mistake, both in the immediate and longer-term.
Take your time, but also don’t delay. (The only absolute deadline on resolving your case is the statute of limitation. In most Florida car accident cases, it runs four years after your accident).
Give us a call if you’ve been injured in an accident — Christina or I will see how best we might be able to help you and answer your questions.