A car accident can result in a variety of serious injuries, so it’s not uncommon for those involved to have to take time off of work to heal and seek medical treatment. However, lost wages and expensive medical bills can cause financial distress.
A common question that car accident victims ask is: “Can I be reimbursed for lost wages after a car accident?” The answer is often yes. However, it’s not as simple as just telling your insurance provider that you missed days at work, you’ll need to follow all the proper steps and file the correct paperwork to make sure you are reimbursed for your lost wages.
How To Submit A Claim For Lost Wages
After a car accident, you may file a claim under your own no-fault insurance to collect any lost wages, or you may file a claim for lost wages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to fairly compensate you for damages, despite your providing evidence, you can also file a lawsuit to attempt to collect fair compensation.
Before submitting a claim for lost wages, it’s important to know what is covered under the applicable insurance policy or policies. In New York State, every driver is legally required to carry no-fault insurance, which helps to cover expenses related to injuries and lost wages in the event of an accident. Basic no-fault insurance coverage typically covers 80% of an injured party’s lost earnings from work (but with a maximum of $2,000 per month), for up to three years from the date of the car accident, with a maximum of $50,000 in total for lost wages and medical expenses related to your accident.
Typically, if the other driver was at-fault for the accident and you choose to file a claim with their insurance company for lost wages, you will be able to collect damages through their liability bodily injury coverage. However, if the other driver was at-fault and uninsured at the time of the accident, or if you have exhausted the other driver’s coverage limits, you can also attempt to collect lost wages through your own SUM coverage.
How Do I Prove My Lost Wages From A Car Accident?
If you’ve had to miss work because of injuries you’ve sustained during a car accident, you will likely want to file a claim in order to be reimbursed for your lost wages. Below are some helpful tips to seek proper compensation for your financial losses.
Clearly Demonstrate Your Injury
If you’re filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover lost wages, you will likely face opposition. It is important to remember that part of an insurance adjuster’s job is to pay out as little as possible for damages after an accident. In order to prove that your injuries have impacted your ability to work and have resulted in financial damages, you’ll want to provide medical records from your doctor and/or a medical professional who treated you for injuries after your accident.
In an instance where you are not able to perform everyday work functions as a result of a car accident, consider visiting your primary care physician. Your physician should be able to review medical records and ask you a series of questions related to your job and your responsibilities, in order to evaluate your injuries and how likely they are to affect the ability to do your job. From there, he or she may provide a statement that you can give to the insurance company proving that your injuries have resulted in a loss of income.
Show You’ve Lost Income As A Result Of Said Injury
Once you’ve established that your injuries have, in fact, prevented you from working, you’ll want to show evidence of any time you’ve missed from work. You’ll need documentary support for your claim, including:
- A letter from your employer
- Recent pay stubs
- Recent time cards or time sheets
- Income tax returns from the previous year
- Overview of your employee benefit policy
If you do not have, or are not sure how to get, any of the above documents, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to assist you in determining what evidence exists that will support your claim.
Compensation That May Be Available To You Even If You’re Paid For Missed Days
If you’re a full-time employee, your employer likely offers benefit packages that include paid time off, vacation days, and sick/personal days. If you were injured, you may have needed to use PTO, sick days, or other paid leave in order to attend medical appointments or ensure you were paid for work duties you could not complete. A skilled personal injury attorney can assist you in determining which of these benefits may be subject to a lost wage claim, or otherwise recoverable from insurance.
Can I Recover Lost Wages If I’m Self-Employed?
Even if you are self-employed, you can still recover compensation for your missed wages. However, it can prove to be a bit more challenging to prove depending on your profession. For example, an independent contractor or a freelancer may have income that tends to fluctuate.
If you’re self-employed, regardless of occupation, you’ll want to gather the documents to demonstrate your financial losses due to the injury you’ve sustained, including:
- State/federal income tax returns from the year prior
- 1099s or other relevant tax forms
- Proof of contracts or project you’ve been unable to complete due to injury
- Proof of canceled appointments and projected income from said appointments
- Bank statements
This is not an exhaustive list, but a sampling of evidence that could prove helpful to your claim. An attorney can assist you in determining what evidence is relevant to your lost wages claim.
How Does Compensation Work If I Have a Temporary or Permanent Disability?
Sometimes, a car accident can cause a temporary or permanent disability that limits your ability to work. If you’ve endured an injury resulting in a disability, you can be compensated for the income you’ll miss out on as “reduced earning capacity”. Earning capacity refers to the amount of money that you could earn if you were able to continue working without disability.
Even if you are still able to work, you can recover through “reduced earning capacity” if your disability prevents you from acquiring a higher paying job that you likely could have obtained if you were not disabled.
Filing A Claim For Loss of Future Earnings
Proving the difference between what you could have earned and what you are capable of earning will require the help of skilled experts. To solidify your case and prove how much you are bound to lose in future earnings, vocational, financial and medical experts may be necessary to prove how much your diminished earning capacity is worth.
If you plan to file a claim for loss of future earnings, your hired experts would use a variety of factors to calculate the value of your lost future earnings. For example, they will likely evaluate:
- Your age and health prior to the accident
- Your career
- Your experiences, specialized skills, and education level
- The anticipated trajectory of your career
- Your expected retirement age
- Anticipated inflation rates
- Whether you can perform another type of work with your disability
Having experts by your side when claiming loss of future earnings due to a disability can provide compelling evidence proving the value of your losses against the insurance company.
Utilizing A Trusted Personal Injury Attorney To Recover Lost Wages After A Car Accident
Suffering a serious injury after a car accident can result in mounting medical bills and prevent you from working all together. Along with the added financial stress following a motor vehicle accident, there are also stringent deadlines and paperwork requirements that need to be met in order to receive compensation for lost wages from insurance.
A qualified personal injury attorney can help you to navigate your no-fault claim and work with the insurance company if you choose to pursue a claim for additional damages against the at-fault driver. If you are temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of your accident and are looking to file a claim for lost future earnings, an experienced law firm has the resources, including access to expert witnesses, who can help to solidify your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury and are unable to work as a result of said injury, don’t wait to contact the trusted personal injury attorneys at Cellino Law. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping injury victims in recovering lost wages due to someone else’s negligence. For a free consultation with a member of our legal team, contact us at 800-555-5555.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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