Recovering Lost Wages after Getting Injured in a Car Accident
You’re driving home after a fun night out with friends when suddenly, a drunk driver plows into your car at a stoplight. In the blink of an eye, your whole life changes and you find yourself suffering from serious and catastrophic injuries. During this time, you are forced to miss months of work while you recover from your injuries and put your life back together again. How will you pay your rent without your paycheck? How will you continue to support your family?
An injury from an auto accident can leave a victim unable to work, thus making it difficult to pay bills and support a family. If you were the victim of an accident at the fault of someone else, you have a right to be reimbursed for the income you lost while recovering. There are several options for recovering lost wages but determining the right course of action is best done with the guidance of an auto accident lawyer.
What are Lost Wages?
After a car accident, you may be able to collect compensation for lost wages. Lost wages refer to the money you would’ve received from working, if your accident had not occurred. You can recover wages that you were unable to earn because of hospitalizations, medical appointments, therapies, and work restrictions. In order to collect lost wages, however, you must establish the following:
- That you were involved in an accident
- That you sustained injuries in that accident
- That your injuries directly caused you to miss work
- Missing work caused you to lose money or benefits
Lost earning capacity and lost compensation are different types of damages than lost wages. Lost earning capacity is caused by any disability that you have suffered that results in a reduced capacity to work. Lost compensation includes lost wages, as well as other types of benefits that you have lost, such as compensation for sick and vacation days, bonuses and other perks of employment.
Car Insurance May Cover Lost Wages
Car insurance may be one viable option for recovering your lost wages. Before submitting your claim to the insurance company, you need to clearly establish liability and you must know what is covered under the terms of the policy. There are several types of coverage that can be used to collect lost wages.
- Liability Coverage – If you were injured due to another driver’s negligence, you could submit a lost wages claim through the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage.
- UIM/UM coverage – If an uninsured driver injured you, you may be able to collect lost wages through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage – if this is part of your insurance plan.
- PIP Coverage – In Arkansas, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is optional, but if it is part of your plan, it will pay for your injuries and lost wages up to your policy’s limits.
Once you submit your claim to the insurance company, they will most likely require you to take an independent medical examination, submit medical documentation, and fill out an employment authorization form. This insurance company can then confirm that you are actually injured and that your injury is preventing you from working. Be careful, however, because these forms also allow the insurance company access to your medical records and personal information. Be truthful on these forms and always include as much detail as you can when describing your injury and your lost wages. Inaccurate or incomplete documentation will result in your lost wages claim being denied.
Personal Injury Claim to Recover Lost Wages
If you find that your insurance policy or the driver’s car insurance policy are not adequate to recover your lost wages, you can consider filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Traditionally courts rule that victims are entitled to reimbursement for all the income they lost while treating and recovering. If you wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at fault driver, contact an experienced car accident lawyer before proceeding. Your attorney can help you during the legal process to protect your rights to compensation. While some people recommended that you wait until you are recovered or until your condition is stable before filing a lawsuit, you should not wait to contact an attorney. Valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed during this time. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner your attorney can begin building your case and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.
How to Prove Lost Wages
Proving lost wages is difficult, but not impossible. When you submit your claim with the insurance company, you must clearly show evidence that you have missed time from work and that you’ve lost money due to your injuries:
- Doctor’s notes or medical records – This is a key component to collecting the money you need. Your disability slip or medical records should clearly indicate your injury and that it was caused by your car accident. Your doctor should also include a note that recommends you take time off of work because of your injuries.
- Paystubs – In order to know how much compensation you’re entitled to, you must show your most recent pay stubs, W2 forms, or tax filings. If you are self-employed, this documentation gets trickier because you must show proof of the money you would’ve earned during your recovery. You can do this by submitting a copy of your accounting books, records of past receipts, and other payment forms.
- Letter from employer – You will also need to submit a letter from your employer that clearly shows the days you missed work due to your injury. It should also note your pay level and any hours you usually work.
Making a lost wages claim can be complex and difficult without an experienced accident lawyer on your side. If you have been left with no way to recover lost wages due to an accident, consult the Arkansas auto accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.