Do Insurance Companies Pay for Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case?

“But my doctor wrote me a disability note!”

We hear this all the time from clients. As a matter of fact we obtain disability notes from our clients’ doctors. Unfortunately this is not the only requirement to getting your wages paid in a personal injury case.

Even if you have pain, and a medical diagnosis that relates the pain to your accident, there are strict rules to how disability is paid.

pay lost wages

Who Is Responsible For Paying Lost Wages?

Lost wages after a car accident in Pennsylvania can be covered in two ways:

  1. Through your own car insurance:
    • You must have purchased income loss benefits as part of your PIP (personal injury protection) coverage.
    • Benefits are available regardless of fault but have limitations:
      • 5-day waiting period
      • Minimum benefit: $2,500/month, $50,000 total
      • Maximum benefit: 80% of gross income, typically capped at $1,000/month, $5,000 total (higher limits rare)
      • Not available for death, except for wages lost before death.
  2. Through a lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance:
    • Requires a court case and proof of fault.
    • Can potentially recover full lost wages and future earning capacity.

How to Get The Other Guys’ Insurance Company to Pay Your Lost Wages

The other guys’ insurance company is responsible for paying for your lost wages at the end of the case, as a result of the settlement or verdict. Wage loss is one of the items of damages your can sue for, along with pain and suffering, physical injuries, medical bills that you paid out of pocket, and similar losses. To prove your wage loss is related to the accident, as with all medical proofs, your doctor must use the magic language “within a reasonable degree of medical certainty“ stating the wage loss that you claim happened as a result of your injuries is in fact related, in his or her opinion. Your doctor must be prepared and willing to testify to this at the trial of your case. So, just because your doctor gave you a disability note it is not necessarily enough to prove this aspect of your case to the opposing insurance company, or to a jury.

How Do You Prove Lost Wages in a Personal Inury Case?

Thorough evidence helps build a strong claim and ensures fair compensation for your lost wages.

  • Medical Records: We need detailed reports from your doctor connecting your injuries to the accident and your missed work. If your doctor’s reports are insufficient, we may need to consult a medical expert for another opinion. This can take extra time but strengthens your case.
  • Proof Of Lost Wages: Your employer can provide verification forms, payroll records, or other documentation showing your missed work and income. Tax returns from before the accident can also be helpful.
  • Disability Coverage: If you have separate disability insurance, you can potentially file a claim with their support. We can assist you with navigating the process, but similar documentation of injury and lost wages will be required.

Can you Sue For Lost Wages if you Switch Jobs?

How about if you had to switch jobs because of your injury? Do you have a wage loss claim? Generally, the answer is no. If you are getting paid at your new job “I couldn’t do my job duties “ doesn’t necessarily equate to getting paid for wage loss.

You have a duty to mitigate your damages, even if you’ve been injured. So, if you can replace your wages in some way (by taking another job or by asking for accommodations from your employer), it is your obligation to do so.

How Do Insurance Companies Test Your Proof of Wage Loss Claim?

Whether it’s your own insurance company to whom you are making a wage loss claim, or the defendant’s insurance company, they will test your proofs of wage loss. They will look into the documentation of your time out of work, and will scrutinize your tax returns.

Insurance companies weigh evidence carefully, including their own medical evaluations. It’s important to remember that these companies, while obligated to process your claim fairly, have financial interests that may differ from yours. This means they might request medical evaluations from doctors they choose, who will review your case from their perspective. Be prepared with objective proof of injury (doctor reports) and wage loss (employer documents). While you can’t control their opinions, you can strengthen your claim by providing clear evidence and cooperating with their requests.

How To File a Personal Injury Claim to Recover Lost Wages

Recovering lost wages after an injury can be complex. Carpey Law specializes in navigating insurance companies and securing the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation and let us handle the legal intricacies, so you can focus on healing.

If you have questions about your wage loss claim, give Carpey Law a call.