Most people understand that they can submit a claim to an insurance company for medical expenses and damage to a vehicle.
Did you know, though, that you can also submit a claim to the insurance company for the at-fault party to recover earnings and benefits that you lost as a result of an accident?
Whether you are an employee or self-employed, you can claim lost wages or income, overtime, bonuses, commissions, and any benefits you used.
Benefits might include vacation or sick time, contributions to a 401K or pension plan, and so on.
Remember that all claims must be justified and documented.
Time off work or any work or mobility restrictions must be diagnosed and validated by a qualified medical professional.
Any income lost must be due to an inability to work as a result of the accident, and must be verified by a medical provider.
For hourly employees, calculations for lost income are pretty straightforward. Most people generally work a specified number of hours a week – simply multiply that by the hourly rate that is paid to determine actual lost income.
For salaried employees, the monthly salaried can be divided or multiplied by the number of weeks or months of lost work to determine lost income.
Identifying wage loss can be more complex if a compensation plan includes bonuses or commissions. In such cases, earnings from a bonus or commission over and above a regular salary must be documented. Past earnings can be considered, as well as projected earnings from a written compensation plan.
If you had opportunities to work overtime or had been scheduled to work overtime before an accident, you may be able to make a claim for lost income. Any details from the employer about the history of the hours you worked in the past or hours scheduled to work when the accident happened would help identify money you could have earned.
If you are in a job that has seasonal differences or particularly busy events (such as April 15th, end-of-quarter or end-of-year sales contests or inventory activities), documenting wage loss can become more complex.
Because the loss of income has such an impact, employees often forget the value of the benefits they earn as well. Because benefits usually depend on hours work, you lose those benefits if you are not working.
For example, your employer may provide a vacation benefit, where you earn 1.2 vacation days per month for the time worked. When you are out of work because of an accident, you lose those vacation days that you otherwise would have earned.
Many employees of unions or some state or federal employees have bigger benefit packages which can account for 30-40% of their earnings. Contributions to pension plans may also be part of a benefits package.
To an employee, a loss of benefits can result in significant monetary losses over and above any loss in income.
The amount of paperwork required to identify lost income can become a job in itself. Our office can guide you through the process of identifying lost wages and lost benefits, and work with you to obtain the required documentation for your claim.
Call our office if you have any questions. We have years of experience specializing in personal injury cases, and can help you with your claim.