Coye Law Worker's Comp - April 2019


Chronicle April 2019 Edition 14 Days to Get Medical Treatment? You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me Wade Coye Attorney

As an attorney, a huge part of my job is understanding how the law can work for an injured or otherwise aggrieved person to ensure they get the compensation they deserve. Just as often, though, my work involves helping people avoid the pitfalls in the legal process that could end up working against them. Like it or not, there are aspects of the law that are designed to benefit insurance companies rather than citizens. These rules and regulations, which are heavily lobbied for by moneyed interests, are put in place to absolve companies of responsibility. One of these laws related to injury cases is known as the Florida PIP 14-day rule. By law, every Florida auto insurance coverage policy has to include $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. In an ideal world, PIP coverage would include your medical expenses in the event of an injury, giving you money to pay your bills while you wait to receive a settlement from the at-fault party. But as you’re surely aware, we don’t live in an ideal world. The 14-day rule, as the name implies, requires injured people to seek medical attention within two weeks of a crash. If they fail to do so, the insurance company has the right to deny all PIP benefits. Yes, that’s right: Your own insurance company, who you pay for protection, can deny that protection because you didn’t see a doctor quickly enough. Their reasoning is that if you don’t get an evaluation or treatment right away, how can they tell if the injury was a result of the accident? That’s a bunch of bullcrap if you ask me. The real reason they put the rule in place is to give themselves an easy out to deny people their benefits. Remember, you may be the insurance company’s client, but they are always watching their bottom line. I see people unwittingly give up their right to PIP benefits all the time. It’s usually for one of two reasons. The first is that many people simply do not have the time to schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately after an accident. Maybe they can’t take a half-day off of work to go get checked out. Their car is probably pretty mangled, and they need the money. Sad as it is to say, there

are also plenty of employers who are not sympathetic to the needs of their workers. It makes no difference to many of them what happened to you — you could’ve been bitten by a shark for all they care — as long as you show up when you’re scheduled to work. If not, you may be fired, which nobody needs in a time of crisis. The second reason, and one that’s all too avoidable, is the “I’m fine” approach. Believe me, I get it. I once messed up my ankle at a charity event and protested to my wife for days that I was fine. “It’s just sprained,” I told her. “I’ll be fine.” Turns out, I had broken my ankle. Toughing it out after a car accident isn’t just foolish from a health perspective; it can mean also your medical bills need to be paid for out of pocket or through your regular medical coverage. That’s pretty insane, right? It may be a law that works actively against the interests of regular people, but it’s the law we’ve got. That’s why I always advise people to get checked out as quickly as possible after a car accident or any other injury. It may be that your injuries are no big deal, but wouldn’t you want to hear that from a doctor? And if you are injured, you are going to be mighty thankful you didn’t wait too long. The only person who might be mad about it is your insurance provider, because you stood up for yourself and took the steps to get the compensation you deserve. -Wade Coye


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