If you are seriously injured and debilitated, you are going to lose time at work. The greater the debilitation, the more time you will lose which can add up to a significant amount of money. This time could be spent in the hospital but it may also be from trips back and forth for medical care, time in the doctor’s office or in rehabilitation, physical therapy or any other reason to be absent from work, related to the accident. Keeping records of this time is paramount to recovering the proper amount of compensatory damages in your personal injury case.
Sick Time, Vacation Pay and Disability
If you have sick time and vacation pay that is used during your recovery, you are still entitled to recover that time as lost income. The reason is that you could have used it for another purpose if not for the fact that you were injured in an accident. You may have been planning a vacation which is no longer possible. You deserve to recover the cost of that lost time. Time collecting disability benefits is also included in the recovery of lost wages. If you receive disability, the insurance company may attempt to convince you that cannot recover lost pay or deny your claim completely. Your experienced personal injury attorney will recover that amount for you by showing the insurance adjuster why you would win in a California court.
Examples of Loss of Income
Record keeping is critical when it comes to claiming lost wages. Time away from work can accumulate more than you may be aware. Some places where you may claim lost wages are:
· Hospital – A hospital stay may last for as little as an hour or two, to a few days or even longer depending upon the level of your injury and the procedures required for your recovery. Even if you are not kept overnight, the process of waiting to be seen in the ER, waiting for a prescription and being released could take a half a day or longer. Even if your sick time pays for that time in the hospital, you are entitled to recover it if the accident was the fault of another party.
· Recovery Time at Home – Let’s say your job is operating a piece of construction equipment or driving a bus. You come home from the hospital with your leg in a cast. Of course, you can’t return to your job until you have regained full use of your leg. You are entitled to claim the pay you lose during that recovery time. Keep an accurate record of that time when you are homebound.
· Doctor Appointments – A half day or longer can be spent traveling to and from the doctor’s office and sitting in the waiting room. This is time away from work. If you are using sick time or not receiving any compensation, you are entitled to receive compensation for that time missed at work. Once again, keep a detailed record of all time spent traveling to and from the doctor’s office as well as the actual amount of time spent at the office.
· Physical Therapy – Physical therapy or rehabilitation can easily take most of a day and may be scheduled for several sessions per month or per week. Some physical therapy requires a long stay at a care facility, especially if your injuries make caring for yourself impossible. You are entitled to collect all your time spent in rehabilitation even if your employer is paying you for your time off.
If you were unable to return to your job or your job was eliminated while you were recovering you may claim the time you spent looking for another job. You may also recover the difference in pay between the job you lost or could no longer perform and the new job you took. If your injury was so debilitating that you could never return to work, your personal injury attorney could ask for money you would have made over your lifetime.
The figure for future earning capacity is often underestimated, especially when a lawyer is interested in selling a quick settlement. An offer of $200,000 may seem tempting to a plaintiff but if the plaintiff loses even $20,000 per year for 20 years that is twice that amount. It is critical to choose and experienced personal injury attorney who understands the issues in your case.
Loss of Income vs Workers Compensation
Compensation for lost pay in California includes all time lost from work that is related to the accident which was the fault of another party. This does not include an accident where you were hurt on the job. Those cases fall under the umbrella of worker’s compensation. An exception being a third party causing the accident. Click here to learn more about the difference between worker’s compensation and personal injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Vititoe Law Group to speak for a free case evaluation. There are certain time limitations on your case and it’s important to act right away.