If you can’t work because you were hurt in a car accident, keep reading for some important information. You may be able to seek compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Insurance companies are supposed to provide you peace of mind, and promise to be on your side while providing you with coverage in the event of an accident. Insurance companies are quick to sign their insured clients up for policies and take their premium payments, but getting compensation is a completely different matter. Unfortunately, insurance companies are businesses with an eye on their bottom line and making money.
This means that when an injured claimant realizes he or she can’t work because of the injuries suffered after a car accident or truck accident, the insurance company may not pay right away. Meanwhile, the recovering claimant is still responsible for paying his or her bills and necessities. The stress of healing on top of being unable to work is not a battle anyone should have to face alone.
Contacting the right personal injury attorney immediately after an accident is important. Your lawyer can guide and advise you about how much compensation you may be able to receive, how to protect your rights and all of your options when it comes to collecting compensation for lost wages.
The best personal injury lawyer will also make an appealing settlement offer that the insurance company is likely to accept, including pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and anything else is a part of the claim. In addition, your lawyer will know that the insurance claim representative is going to have to have a copy of the police report, medical bills, medical report, and lost wages statement documented on paper, readable and in writing. To recover lost wages, the claimant has to provide documents like lost wage statements as evidence to support the claim.
What is lost wages?
Generally, there are two types of damages or categories of compensation: (1) general damages and (2) special damages. General damages include recovery for certain types of injuries like pain and suffering while special damages include damages that can be identified and determined using documents with specific dollar values like medical bills, property damage and lost wages. Since time can’t be turned back, the only way to make an injured claimant whole is by paying damages is money.
Lost wages includes the money you would have made from work if the car accident never happened. This can be wages you would have made hourly, or from days missed as a salaried employee. It can also include money you would have made like lost bonuses, paid vacation days or tips. The time frame ranges from the time of the accident all the way to the date of trial or settlement, if the claimant continues to lose wages over time.
Another consideration is any other lost benefits from either being unable to work like medical benefits, or working for less money as a result of the accident.
For example, let’s say a person worked at one job position at a company making $40 dollars an hour plus overtime and then gets into a car accident. The injured claimant may still be able to work, but can’t work like before and had to take either another job or work different hours because of lingering pain or disability from the accident. In this kind of case, the injured claimant may be able to recover for the reduction in his or her wages.
Of course, an injured claimant can still recover for property damage and bodily injuries, so not having lost wages does not prevent a claimant from recovering.
What is included in lost wages?
As discussed earlier in this article, lost wages damages include the money you would have made from work if the car accident never happened.
One question injured claimants can ask themselves is “but for” the accident, where would he or she be now? What kind of money would the injured claimant have made “but for” the accident? In other words, if the accident never happened, what kind of money or other benefits tied to his or her job did the injured claimant lose? The answers to these questions can help form a list or everything that is included in a settlement payment that demands lost wages or lost earning capacity.
For injured claimants that are students or taking classes, this claim can also include lost wages the injured claimant may have made if he or she was able to complete classes and perhaps find work, or a job that makes more money.
For example, if a service industry employee making minimum wage is taking night classes to become an engineer, and then is unable to attend classes as a result of the accident, then he or she may be able to recover for the claimant’s loss.
In addition, this can include rehabilitation training costs and fees. After a car accident, an injured claimant that requires rehabilitation training and at least started vocational / professional rehabilitation training before the settlement can include these costs in the demand. In fact, if the injured claimant asks for them and the insurance company accepts liability, in some cases these costs must be included in the settlement payment.
Once an injured claimant finds out what exactly is included in a damages award for lost wages, the injured claimant and attorney need to collect evidence to support the claim for lost wages or hire an expert to provide an official opinion that holds up in court.
How do I support my claim for lost wages?
Typically, documentation from the employer or an accountant (if the injured claimant is self-employed) can act as proof that the injured claimant suffered from a reduction in income because of the accident. This documentation typically is a statement with monthly or annual earnings.
Injured claimants also have the option of hiring a vocational rehabilitation consultant or expert.
Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant or Expert
A vocational rehabilitation expert and consultant may be hired to meet with the plaintiff and provide an estimate of all the costs to rehabilitate the plaintiff. This vocational rehabilitation consultant looks at the injured claimant’s earning capacity, lost earnings and wages, the cost of replacement labor and any loss in ability or time in performing household services. They are typically experts in their field and able to testify in court if needed. The rehabilitation consultant’s official opinion should be in written report form and addressed to the injured claimant.
The rehabilitation consultant’s report should include the following in the written report:
(1) the cost for the questions and answers or interview time with the injured claimant,
(2) the costs, fees and expenses for rehabilitation consultant to watch and track the injured claimant’s ongoing progress, and
(3) the cost of materials used to rehabilitate the injured claimant like tuition, books and any other costs the claimant may incur as part of his or her training.
An injured claimant and his or her personal injury attorney needs to remember that credibility is important. This means that the experts and consultants hired have to be reliable, and their opinion respected.
Both sides can hire a vocational rehabilitation consultant. An insurance company that thinks there is a reason to reduce the amount of payments or settlement for lost wages, the insurance company can hire a vocational rehabilitation consultant for their side. If the insurance company does this, then their expert will likely examine the injured claimant and test his or her ability to be employed, job skills and more to find out if the claimant could have found other work despite any lingering pain, disability or discomfort resulting from the car accident.
People hurt after a car accident who do not have a legal or insurance professional background can find it difficult – not only to find out everything they are entitled to receive as compensation – but also getting insurance companies to actually pay, and provide that payment as soon as possible. It can be an intimidating and time-consuming process. Hiring the right lawyer who has the skills, knowledge and experience to get you the information and results you need can help.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer
Without experience in the insurance industry or legal experience, understanding which factors or evidence can help or hurt your case can be difficult to understand.
Are you trying to secure your financial recovery with the help of experienced attorneys? If so, we can help.
The Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm has helped countless Texans handle their insurance disputes. Our experienced trial lawyers have gone up against some of the biggest names in the insurance industry while successfully bringing home payouts for clients. Our successful reputation speaks for itself, and with offices in both Houston and San Antonio, we are well equipped to assist Texans who are in dire need of our services. Register online for a free case evaluation or call us today at 713-524-8139 (Houston) or 210-702-3000 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.