When you have been injured in an accident and you’re not at fault, the insurance company for the other driver should pay your lost wages along with your other damages. In the case of a hit and run accident or a collision with an uninsured motorist, lost wages are part of the damages you may recover against your own insurance company. Things can become complicated when you’re not certain when or if you will return to work. To make matters even more stressful, the insurance company responsible for reimbursing your lost wages may be pressuring you to accept a settlement when you have no way of predicting the future.
Lost Wage Calculations in Cases of Minor Injuries
Assume that you work full-time, 5 days a week, and earn $900 per week. You rarely work overtime, so your checks have been the same amount for months. Because of the accident, you had to miss eight days of work. The insurance company is responsible for $1,440, which is a daily rate of $180 multiplied by eight. However, documentation may be required from your doctor confirming that you had to miss work due to injuries you received in the accident. A letter from your employer confirming that you missed work for eight days may also be required.
If you work part-time, receive commission, or are an independent contractor, the lost wages claim should reflect your average earnings. You can expect to submit additional documentation if you’re not traditionally employed. This might include invoices you sent to clients, business bank account statements, prior year tax returns, or other work records.
Wage Loss Determination When You’re Out of Work Indefinitely
When you have sustained serious or permanent injuries, there is uncertainty whether you might be able to work again. Even if you do recover eventually, there is no guarantee that your employer will hold your job open for you. Another common scenario for injured people is that they cannot return to the same job since it’s too physically or mentally demanding with their new limitations. They’re working, but earning less than they did before the accident.
Insurance companies don’t have clear-cut rules to follow in these situations. What often happens is that an insurance adjuster presents an offer hoping the injured person will accept it and go away. Unfortunately, the offer is typically too low to account for his or her new reality. Additionally, it can fail to take the following into account:
- Promotions you would have received
- Bonuses you would have qualified for if you weren’t injured
- Loss of employer contributions to a retirement savings account
- Cost of living and merit raises
- Health insurance, life insurance, and other benefits paid by your employer
Assume that you’re out of work for a year recovering from your injuries. Your employer, understandably, had to hire someone else to fill your position. Although you’re now physically capable of doing your old job, it’s no longer available. You’re forced to accept a lower-paying position elsewhere because you have bills to pay and a family to support. The following factors should be considered:
- The pay differential between your current job and your previous job
- How long it took you to secure a new position and the money you lost while doing so
- Whether you must work at the lower-paying job indefinitely
Unfortunately, insurance companies fail to account for these factors most of the time.
Compensation if You’re Never Able to Return to Work
If you sustain severe injuries, you may never be able to return to your job or work at any type of job. While this is a worst-case scenario, it happens. This can make you feel extremely upset and anxious about the future, especially when you didn’t cause the accident. It’s at a time like this that you truly need a personal injury lawyer looking out for your best interests. Your settlement needs to last for the rest of your life.
At Wilson, Frame & Metheney, we present to the insurance company the following:
- Your current age: Obviously a permanently disabled 21-year-old would require a larger settlement than someone with only a few years until retirement.
- Your history of earnings and benefits from your employment
- Your employment history
- Other health conditions exacerbated by the accident
- Your educational credentials and job skills
Getting injured in a car accident is stressful, whether your injuries are minor or life changing. Please contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation at your convenience.