Car accidents cause two main types of injuries. There are the injuries caused by impact (whiplash, bruises and broken bones caused when your body hits parts of the vehicle) and others caused by something penetrating the skin. After a crash, it’s not uncommon to need time off from work. Using up your vacation, personal, and sick time seems unfair if the car accident was another driver’s fault.
If you’re injured in a car accident, you need to know how you’re going to recover lost wages. You may be out of work for months with some injuries. Here’s what you need to look at and do to ensure you’re not struggling financially due to someone’s negligence.
Recovery Time Depends on the Injuries
Even minor injuries received in a crash may lead to missed work. Bruises caused by the seatbelt will lead to discomfort. If your work requires a level of business attire, a fitted jacket may put pressure on bruises and make you uncomfortable. If you hit your knee on the steering column, a deep bruise can limit your mobility for a few days. Standing on your feet for eight hours or longer may be too painful.
More serious injuries require weeks to heal. If the crash fractured your pelvis, you’ll need up to three months to heal. Traumatic brain injuries may need up to six months, especially if you’re older. It can take older adults up to a year to heal after a brain injury.
Even if you’re fine using up personal and vacation time while you recover, you’ll run out of paid time off. Can you afford weeks of unpaid leave? FMLA only allows up to 12 weeks unpaid for medical reasons, so you couldn’t rely on the protection of FMLA to keep your job open. You must consider that.
Say you’re making $20 an hour, missing just one week of work costs you $800. If you typically work overtime or get perks at work like free lunches, you’re losing even more. The good news is that lost wages are covered in a car crash. You don’t have to use your personal or vacation time. You don’t have to take a financial hit. The other driver’s insurance should cover it, but your policy may need to if the other driver is uninsured.
Filing an Insurance Claim
As soon as possible, file a claim with the insurance company. Questions you’ll be asked range from the other driver’s information to the names and contact information for any witnesses. You’ll be asked if you have medical bills, a police accident report number, and where your vehicle is located. If you have this ready before you make a call or fill out an online claim, it’s easier than having to hunt for information at the last minute.
Using the medical paperwork, tell the agent how long you’ll need to recover. If your doctor said you should stay home for a week following a concussion, you need to stay home. You may feel fine but obey the doctor’s instructions. If you have to file a lawsuit against the other driver, that driver’s attorney could use that refusal to following instructions against you.
The insurance company is going to look at the accident report to determine blame. The adjuster will look at the damages to your car and determine if it can be repaired or if it’s totaled. The value of repairs or the replacement value is calculated. That number is added to your medical bills, lost wages, and damaged personal property like a laptop that got thrown around during the crash.
Loss of earnings must be part of your claim. Make sure you make it clear that you’ll be out of work for four weeks. If you earn $1,000 a week, you’re losing $4,000 in wages. Add any overtime you usually would work. Get a letter from your doctor stating how much time you must miss. Next, get a letter from your employer listing your wage, any perks you’re missing, and how much overtime you typically work per week. You’ll want all of this to prove your loss of income.
This is a lot of paperwork and calls to make while you’re recovering. It’s also complex because there are statutes of limitations for filing a personal injury claim. Jordan, Herington & Rowley helps people receive a fair settlement. If you’re not convinced the insurance company is offering enough to cover your lost income, call us. Consultations are free and available 24/7.