When claiming lost wages after an accident, the first question people ask is how they go about collecting this income, and who do they get it from. The process generally goes as follows:
As soon as possible after the accident, the injured party should seek medical help. Do not delay! Insurance companies frequently use delays in seeking medical help (more than 72 hours) as a reason to lower the final settlement figure.
Get a written statement from your doctor explaining why you were unable to work, and for how long you will be missing from your employment.
Provide a copy of your doctor’s report to both your employer and to your personal injury attorney.
If you’re going to be out of work for a considerable length of time, including after the settlement of your personal injury case, you are entitled to loss of income from the time of the accident to the date of the settlement, as well as to income you could have been expected to earn from the time of the settlement until you are able to return to work, if ever. In such cases, a good personal injury attorney will have to present very strong evidence regarding your potential future earnings, including the testimony of expert witnesses, your former employer, etc.
If I use paid time off, will the money I get be deducted from my settlement?
Under California law, your lost compensation is not affected by using vacation or sick pay. In fact, you as the injured party should claim these things prior to settling your case or receiving a judgment. You have a right to this income and had it not been for someone else’s negligence (the party that injured you), you would have been able to use this money for something other than paying bills while waiting for your case to be settled. Ask a good Sacramento car accident attorney if you’re unsure of your rights in this area.
I’m in sales and part of my income is commission-based. Do I lose that?
California law is very clear on this matter. Injured parties are fully entitled to recover any income they could reasonably have expected to make had they been able to continue to work. That means you would be able to claim:
Your basic wages
Commissions you can show you would normally have earned in the time off work
Bonus payments you would have expected to receive. A letter from your employer would be useful here, as well as any evidence of past bonus payments.
The monetary equivalent of any fringe benefits you would normally receive and will not now receive because of your inability to work
Any other earnings you will lose, or probably lose, due to your injuries
I have disability insurance. Will money I get from that be deducted from my claim?
Once again, an experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney would be of great assistance in such a case. Insurance companies have and will try to reduce their settlement offers to people with disability insurance, and particularly those who don’t have a personal injury lawyer working for them. The fact is, however, that under California law, in the vast majority of cases, you would be entitled to your disability payments in addition to your settlement.
Insurance companies have no right to take into account your disability insurance, nor can they reduce the money they pay you because of it. This principal in law is known as “the collateral source rule.”
The insurance company is questioning whether I’m entitled to lost wages...
The question you must ask yourself is, “Who was responsible for my injuries?” Personal injury attorneys agree that if you weren't at fault, you're entitled to lost wages. Insurance companies are notorious for using the “3 D’s” to save money. They deny, delay and defend. Many claimants receive notification from an insurance company denying any liability. Even when they admit liability, insurers will find ways to delay paying out settlements for as long as possible. They will also frequently defend cases that should never see the inside of a courtroom, in the hopes that a nervous plaintiff will accept a reduced settlement.
If you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side from the beginning, the insurance companies are far less likely to use these tactics than if you’re acting on your own. They know they simply won’t get away with ludicrously low offers or delaying tactics, and studies have proven that people who use personal injury attorneys on average receive better settlements, even after the attorney’s fees are taken out.
If you’ve been injured in a California road accident and it wasn’t your fault, you have already experienced pain and suffering due to someone else’s negligence. You should not have to bear the brunt of expensive medical care, ongoing treatment or any other loss of income. If you’ve missed work because of your injuries, and you’re unsure of how to go about claiming lost wages and other income, don’t delay. Contact an experienced and reliable Sacramento accident attorney as soon as possible. They will explain your rights and guide you through the process of claiming your lost wages, as well as getting you the compensation you deserve.