We have all seen that a very high percentage of Florida automobile accident attorney commercials include a call of action: “Call us NOW if you’ve been injured in an accident!” Of course, much of what precedes the call of action includes declarations that do little to set that law firm apart from other firms. Examples include such statements as “Free Consultation” and “You Never Pay a Fee Unless We Win.” Do not get me wrong; while I do not run TV ads, I do put this language in my ads as well. However, the fact of the matter is that virtually every personal injury attorney in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area has a policy of Free Consultations, and nearly all automobile accident cases accepted by lawyers are based on a contingency fee (i.e., an injured auto accident victim never pays unless there is a financial recovery).
But it is the “CALL US NOW” part that has bothered me a little in the past, and has been the subject of blog posts I have done. That is, until now. I still believe that if someone is experiencing no symptoms, it is really not imperative to call an attorney immediately. I likely have some colleagues that would disagree with that, but Florida has a long, four-year statute of limitations, so the implication (and sometimes representation) that unless you call “right away” you may “lose valuable rights” has been somewhat misleading in my opinion.
However, a change in Florida law has somewhat changed my opinion, and my advice to a person with any physical symptoms following a Florida car wreck is to contact an attorney as soon as possible! Specifically, the Florida legislature changed the law pertaining to personal injury protection (PIP) effective January 1, 2013, and now if a person injured in an automobile accident does not seek medical treatment within two weeks, that person could waive all rights to future medical payments under his or her PIP coverage. It is actually quite ironic. The legislature passed this law to cut down on abuse of PIP, but now forces an injured person into treatment just to protect benefits available under an automobile policy.
The numerous changes in the PIP statute are too lengthy to discuss in this blog post, but suffice it to say, as a result of these changes, a person with any physical symptoms of injury should contact a highly qualified attorney immediately. Failing to do so could compromise valuable benefits, and leave the injured victim footing medical bills down the road.