Each year, between 20 and 50 million people are injured or disabled as a result of a car accident. Have you recently found yourself in this position? Have you had to take time off from work to deal with your injuries?
As if recovering from an injury, whether it lasts a day or several months, isn’t bad enough, now you also have to deal with a reduction in or total loss of income since you can’t work. The good news, though, is that you can recoup that money. Read on to learn how you can win back your lost wages after being involved in a car accident.
What Counts as “Lost Wages”
When you’re dealing with a car accident injury case, the term “lost wages” refers to any amount of money that you would have earned from your employer between the date of the accident and the date of the judgment or settlement. If your injuries resulted from the accident, you can recover the wages that you would have been able to earn had you not had to take time off from work to receive medical treatment or to heal.
“Lost Earning Capacity” and “Lost Compensation”
Remember, there’s a difference between “lost wages”, “lost earning capacity”, and “lost compensation.” These are separate issues that may apply to you, but that you also need to address (with your lawyer’s help) separate from the lost wages issue.
“Lost earning capacity” applies to those who have become disabled as a result of their accident. If the damage from your accident is so severe that you’re unable to work in the same way you did before, the insurance company must take that into account when calculating your settlement. They need to make up for the money you had the potential to earn had you not been injured and disabled.
“Lost compensation” includes lost wages as well as other losses, such as financial benefits. For example, it takes into account bonuses and other perks that come with your job for which you’re no longer eligible because of the time you spent away recovering.
What About Sick Leave?
Let’s say you were able to still get paid during some or all of your recovery time because you used your sick days or vacation days. Does that mean you’re not entitled to have your lost wages recovered? Nope!
Even if you didn’t directly lose income, you still deserve to get that money back. You should have been able to use those days when you were ill or when you wanted to take a vacation, not so you could recover from an accident for which someone else was responsible. This still counts as lost wages.
Submitting a Lost Wages Claim
At this point, you’re probably feeling glad that you can get back the money you’ve lost during your recovery. You might be wondering how to get paid after a car accident, though, or what kind of lost wages form you need to fill out. Here are the steps you need to take if you’re planning on submitting a lost wages claim:
Know Your Options
There are a few different ways you can go about recovering your lost wages. The first is to make a claim through your insurance company. The second option is to make a claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You can also file a lawsuit against the other driver. This option can get expensive and is the most time-consuming, so it’s best to only file a lawsuit in very serious cases.
Know What’s Covered
It’s important to know what’s covered under the insurance policy (yours or the at-fault driver’s), too. The amount of money you can recover varies based on the type of coverage.
For example, you can submit a claim through the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage. You can also submit a claim through your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in the event that the driver doesn’t have insurance. If you live in a no-fault state, personal injury protection coverage allows you to collect lost wages from your insurance coverage up to whatever policy limit is in place.
After you’ve made a request through the insurance company, they’ll require you to receive an independent medical examination. You’ll also have to submit medical documents verifying the extent of your injuries, as well as an employment authorization form verifying the nature of your work and the time you’ve had to take off. If you’re self-employed, you can submit self-employment letters instead.
Proving Lost Wages
To get reimbursed for your lost wages, you need to be able to prove what you’ve missed out on as a result of the accident. The following documents can help you verify the amount of money you’ve lost:
A note from your doctor proves that you sustained actual injuries. It also includes information about how much time they, in their professional medical opinion, recommend you take off work.
Be sure to search for an “auto accident doctor near me” and go see them as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it is to prove that the accident is responsible for your injuries.
Paystubs show how much money you lost while you were off work and make the process of calculating yearly income easy. Self-employed individuals can use tax returns, invoices, and other documents in lieu of paystubs.
You should submit a letter from your employer, too. This verifies your pay level, the number of hours you work and the number of days you missed.
Get Your Lost Wages Back Today
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to get your lost wages back after you’ve taken time off work from being in an accident. You don’t have to accept your empty bank account and move on. Keep this information in mind so you can get reimbursed as you start working toward getting back on your feet (and back on the job).
Do you need more advice on recovering from a car accident or handle other legal issues? If so, we have plenty of resources available on our site. Check them out today.
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