Is It Necessary to See a Doctor After a Car Accident in Fort Myers?
Doctor After a Car Accident in Fort Myers
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Doctor After a Car Accident in Fort Myers
If you're in a car accident in the Fort Myers area, Florida's personal injury protection (PIP) law allows you just 14 days to see a doctor and recover the medical expenses incurred from your car accident-related injuries. If you miss the 14-day deadline, your insurance company may deny your claim, and you could be on the hook for paying for any health problems that surface later.
It's essential to see a doctor after any car accident because some injuries don't become apparent right away. Immediately after an accident, most people have a rush of adrenaline that can last up to an hour. This kind of adrenaline rush could mask injuries until it wears off, and some injuries that you can't see, like internal trauma, can be life-threatening. A doctor's examination should be able to pinpoint any injuries you've suffered.
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What should I tell a doctor after a car accident?
It goes without saying that you should be very open with your doctor about how you're feeling. Describe any pain or symptoms in detail, and be sure they are aware you were just in an accident. It would be best if you also told them how your injuries are impacting your day-to-day life. It's critical to share this kind of information so it can be documented. Physician documentation is incredibly helpful should you find yourself in the position of needing to file a lawsuit against the other driver, so be sure to request copies of everything as well.
Your doctor may order X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and a full-body exam to diagnose any injuries. Ask your doctor what the recovery process will look like. If your injuries are genuinely minor, you might simply get ice packs and some pain relievers. Conversely, you may need to see a specialist depending on the severity of your injuries that will require follow-up care.
Taking care of your health should be a top priority, so make sure to follow your doctor's orders and show up to appointments. If you ignore your doctor's advice or fail in follow-up care, the insurance company could see this as proof that you're not as injured as you claim to be.
What if I was in a minor car accident?
Even minor accidents can transfer significant force through your body. When you're in a minor accident, you may do a self-check and shrug it off if you think you're okay. Still, you may not realize that your body is hiding injuries that may not manifest for hours, days, or even weeks. Hidden injuries can cause serious damage if left unchecked. Here are some common injuries that can happen even in minor collisions.
Neck injuries - Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury that happens when your neck is forced back and forth rapidly. Whiplash may not manifest for some time after the impact, but it can be very painful when it does. If you're treated right away, you may be able to save yourself days, weeks, or months of pain. Even with treatment, some individuals suffer from long-term complications.
Brain injuries - A collision can cause brain injuries like a concussion that may not be apparent immediately afterward. Suppose you have a headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, confusion, or ringing in your ears. In that case, you may have a concussion and need to seek medical treatment right away.
Back injuries - Spinal injuries may not be immediately apparent and, if left unchecked, can turn into a serious problem down the road. Swelling and bleeding around the spinal cord may gradually lead to numbness or even paralysis. Only a doctor can rule out a spinal injury.
Soft tissue injuries - Shoulders, feet, ankles, elbows, and wrists are subject to soft tissue injuries. If you delay getting checked by a doctor, you may not even associate the pain that reveals itself later with your accident.
Internal injuries - Internal bleeding is a very serious condition that can easily be overlooked until it's too late.
While you may be lucky enough to walk away after a minor car accident, there's no way to be certain you're not suffering from a hidden injury unless you seek medical care.
Should I go to the emergency room or urgent care?
One of the reasons people don't seek medical care after a car accident is fear of the cost, which is totally understandable. However, you're deciding to go may be the difference between life and death. Emergency rooms are far more expensive than urgent care but choosing between one or the other depends on the level of your injuries. For example, urgent care should be fine if you have back or muscle pain, cuts, or a sprain, and you may be seen quicker.
Choose an emergency room if you think you have head injuries, broken bones protruding through the skin, severe abdominal pain, or uncontrolled bleeding. Of course, you can go to your regular doctor if you're just concerned about a post-accident checkup, but try to get in as soon as possible.
What does my PIP insurance cover?
Florida PIP benefits cover 80 percent of medical care costs up to the policy limits, such as emergency room visits, ambulance rides, surgery, X-rays, and physical therapy. When you seek medical care, you must be sure the practitioner is covered under the Florida statute. For example, massage therapy and acupuncture are not covered under PIP, even if your doctor is giving you the treatment.
PIP also covers 60 percent of lost wages if you're unable to work due to the accident, as well as paying for services you cannot perform, such as household chores, shopping, and cooking. Finally, in the case of death, PIP offers a $5000 death benefit that can be paid to an estate executor or administrator, blood relatives, legally adopted children, or a spouse. It's important to note that PIP does not cover anything for pain and suffering.
Who does PIP pay?
Personal injury protection insurance covers children as well as yourself in the event of a car accident. It might be possible that passengers who do not drive a car and therefore do not have PIP insurance can claim benefits under your policy if they were hurt.
What if my injuries are severe?
Florida law allows victims to go outside of the no-fault law restrictions under certain circumstances, such as a serious crash that causes permanent and chronic injury. These exceptions include amputation, significant scarring or disfigurement, and traumatic brain injuries. You can also circumvent the no-fault law if you've lost a major body function or suffered paralysis. If any of these conditions are met, you will want to have legal representation to pursue a lawsuit against the driver who caused your injuries.
What kind of compensation can you get for serious car accident injuries?
If you've been seriously injured, you may be able to recover damages that are not covered under PIP by filing a third-party claim against the at-fault driver with one of our personal injury attorneys in the Fort Myers area. You can seek compensation under two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further split into two categories, economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages - These kinds of damages are costs and expenses directly linked to the vehicle accident, which generally include the following:
- Past and present medical expenses - All of the costs associated with your healthcare may be recoverable, including doctor's visits, travel expenses to and from medical appointments, and medications.
- Future medical expenses - If you require ongoing medical care, these costs can be included in the compensation package.
- In-home healthcare - Expenses related to an in-home health aide can be recoverable.
- Physical therapy - Therapy is often part of rehabilitation, and these costs can be included.
- Lost wages - Any lost wages from your inability to work after the accident can be added to the damages, including the loss of retirement benefits, bonuses, and vacation time that should have been accruing.
- Future lost wages and benefits - When people are severely injured, it may force them to switch to a lower-paying job or retire from the workforce. In this case, you should be entitled to compensation for the loss of income and benefits.
- Losses related to common services - If you're no longer able to care for your property and home, the costs of paying for these services may be included.
- Child care - Should your injuries impact your ability to care for your children, costs associated with a child care provider may be recoverable.
- Property damage - Damage to your vehicle and personal property may be included.
Noneconomic damages - These kinds of damages are related to things that are difficult to measure, such as the following:
- Pain and suffering - This varies from claim to claim, but "pain and suffering" is meant to compensate for the pain you've endured and may continue to endure.
- Physical impairment - If you've lost the ability to do certain things or have restrictions, you can be compensated for the loss.
- Disfigurement - Should you lose a limb, lose your eyesight or hearing, or have any significant scarring, this is also compensable.
- Mental anguish - Mental anguish is a degree above pain and suffering. It can have lifelong consequences like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
- Loss of consortium - Should a spouse or child lose their loved one in a car accident, this type of damage is loss of consortium, meaning they've lost the emotional support of their loved one.
Punitive damages - Although rare, punitive damages are awarded if the court decides the at-fault driver is guilty of gross negligence. For example, suppose you were hit by a commercial truck. The driver was under the influence and had a known history of driving drunk, yet the company kept the driver employed. In that case, the court may consider their inaction gross negligence and award punitive damages to make an example of the company. However, it's important to note that Florida has a punitive damage cap of no more than three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Suppose you or a loved one were involved in a Fort Myers area collision. In that case, we strongly recommend you see a doctor after the car accident and get in touch with our personal injury attorneys. We can help protect your rights, mitigate costs, and recover the compensation you need to get well. Our fee is free unless we win. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.