If you were injured in an auto accident in Texas and you missed work as a result, you're likely wondering how your lost wages will get paid. Do the bills fall on your shoulders? Will your insurance pay for them? Will the other driver have to pay up?
Who Can Make a Lost Wage Claim?
If you were hurt in an accident that was someone else's fault (on the job or not), and you missed work as a result, you have a right in Texas to be compensated for missed work days and lost earning capacity.
Whose Insurance Pays for Lost Wages?
The first thing you'll need to do is look at whose fault the accident was. If, for instance, the other driver caused the accident, the claim will be made using their insurance company. At my firm, we mainly look at the at-fault driver's liability insurance to make sure they pay for what they should, which includes compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
If you have health insurance or personal injury protection (PIP), I'd also encourage you to use it to help pay your medical bills. If you have PIP insurance on your car (or on the car you were in at the time of the accident), that insurance company should pay your 80 percent of the wages you lost from missing work due to injuries.
In summary, if you were hurt in an auto accident, it's best to use all forms of available insurance to ensure you're fully compensated for the days of work you missed.
If you hire a personal injury attorney, they will handle your lost wages claim for you.
How to Make a Lost Wages Claim (If You're Employed or Self-Employed)
Any claim for lost wages must be supported by documentation from your employer or, if you're self-employed, by your federal income tax returns.
You will need to provide proof that missing work was reasonable and supported by your medical records. If you were working in a warehouse and suffered a broken leg in an accident, it's pretty obvious that you were unable to work until you were out of your cast and back on your feet. But with other injuries, it might not be as obvious as to whether or not you're able to work. In those situations, you'll need support from your doctor.
Sometimes doctors don't record the fact that they told you to stay off work; instead they just give you an off-work slip. Make sure to keep all of those slips to prove that the work you missed was at the advice and direction of your doctor. Without a doctor's excuse, the insurance company might not think that the work you missed was justified, and therefore they might not pay you for it.
Can You Make a Lost Wages Claim If You're Unemployed?
No. To make a lost wages claim, you need to prove your wages.
If you're unemployed and an injury took away future earning capacity (like if the injury left you with a weak back that prevents you from doing manual labor), you CAN still recover money for that. This is different than lost wages - it falls under the category of future wages.
If you've been injured badly enough to warrant claiming for future earning capacity, you're case automatically becomes more serious in the eyes of the insurance company. These kinds of claims are best brought to your personal injury attorney, and you'll need to speak with one before moving forward. If you believe this applies to you, please don't hesitate to give my firm a call. We offer free, no obligation consultations.
If you're not sure whether hiring a lawyer is right for you, I've written a helpful guide here:
Common Questions on Lost Wages
Question #1: Can I receive compensation if I'm self-employed?
Yes. You'll need to provide a history of your income to show the wages you've lost. This would include averaging your income per month to show that the months following your accident have significantly lower averages than those before the accident. Providing tax returns and financial statements can also be helpful.
Question #2: I get paid in direct deposit-monthly. How can I prove how much I earn?
You can request for human resources or your office manager to provide you with copy of a pay stub, or you may obtain one online if available.
Question #3: Can I receive compensation for benefits?
Yes. Vacation time or sick leave used to take time off work to handle accident-related tasks, such as treating injuries, is an example of this; you are using your job’s employee benefit of taking paid time off work to care for your health, which can be compensated for.
Question #4: I need to receive compensation for my lost wages, but the insurance company does not acknowledge the full amount of my wages. How can I proceed?
Basically, there are three things you need to prove your lost wages: proof that the doctor ordered you to take time off work, proof that you missed that time from work, and proof of what you are making. With these three things, it is very likely that an insurance adjuster will accept a claim for lost wages. However, obtaining compensation for lost wages is generally easier with employees who are paid hourly (who have set hours and wages), and the process gets more difficult for those who are self-employed.
This is where personal injury attorneys come in. Here at the Anderson Law Firm, we solve many of the problems that injured accident victims face when dealing with their insurance adjusters, and they do so through many ways.
One way is for the attorney to call in a certified public accountant (CPA) who would completely review the earnings of an employed individual and conclude exactly how much they lost in wages. Another is in the pre-suit process, litigation, and trial process.
Personal injury attorneys take the arduous task of victims trying to prove their lost wages and use their experience and legal knowledge to win them their fight in obtaining wage compensation against insurance companies and their adjusters.