Lost Time and Earnings
LOST TIME AND EARNINGS
By: Dan Baldyga
The following information is offered as insights into lost time and earnings as a result of being injured in a motor vehicle accident:
LOST WAGES: The days and hours you were unable to function at work thus the money you may have lost, is added up. This constitutes one of the most important elements of your damages, namely Lost Wages. Generally, you shouldnt view your time away from work, because of an injury, strictly as "Lost Time and Earnings" but rather as "Lost Earning Capacity". In many instances you can claim your lost time and earnings, even if youve no actual loss of money! For example, when your salary is paid because youve taken sick leave, or because of an Accident and Health Policy thats available to you, or some other similar arrangement.
DOCUMENTATION OF LOST INCOME: If youre regularly employed by someone else, ask your supervisor, boss, or the person in charge of such matters to write a letter for you on company stationary. This letter should include: Your name, position, rate of pay, number of hours you normally work and the number of days, and/or weeks, you missed because of the accident.
Be ready to discuss with the insurance adjuster: If your work demands heavy labor and/or lifting, if you lost any vacation time or sick leave, any loss of future earning capacity, if you were absent from one or more important business meetings, if you were unable to make appointments with important or potential customers, or if you had an opportunity for an interview that might have led to a better job.
IF YOURE SELF-EMPLOYED OR OWN A BUSINESS: Be sure to collect for the cost of any additional help you had to hire while you were undergoing medical treatment and/or recuperating. Be ready to discuss: If your work demands heavy labor or lifting, how many hours you normally work each day and week, your average income per week, if your business lost money while you were laid up, and how much.
To substantiate your claim you should consider presenting to the adjuster whatever documents will prove a loss in billing or services, a calendar showing appointments you had to cancel, and letters or documents proving business meetings you had to cancel.
COMMISSIONS AND OVERTIME: Commissions and overtime are legitimate losses you can claim. Be sure to obtain a letter from your employer, on his letterhead, spelling out the approximate amount of money you lost in commissions and overtime. This can be accomplished by reviewing last years figures, for the same period, and then averaging them out, for that identical space in time you were unable to work.
TWO BASIC QUESTIONS: To help your lost wage situation you should ask yourself two basic questions: (1) Did the injury you were the victim of necessitate a change of job or employment? (2) Did the injury allow you to get back to work but only on a part time basis? If the answer to one or both of these two questions is "yes", ask your employer to document these facts on their letterhead. The proof of either will absolutely give your claim more value.
GROSS PAY VS. NET PAY: You should collect for the gross wages you lost, not the net. For every week of Total Disability (a fact your attending physician must clearly state in the discharge Medical Report) your doctor declares, you should use your total weekly income, even if you were paid. For every week of Partial Disability your doctor states in the Medical Report, you can claim up to 50% of your daily and/or weekly income, even if you didnt lose any.
SICK LEAVE OR VACATION TIME: If you had to take sick leave or vacation pay during the period you missed from work it must be considered. Keep in mind you would have been entitled to use that sick leave, or vacation time, for other periods when you may have needed or wanted it. If youre forced to take your sick leave, or vacation pay, because of an accident, its to be considered the same as losing the money itself!
LOST OPPORTUNITIES: You're entitled to be compensated for work opportunities you may not have been able to take advantage of because of your injuries. Even if you cant point to specific dollar amounts you may have lost, the fact is the adjuster knows the potential, in the area of "lost opportunities" (situations you were unable to take advantage of) are legitimate issues and if somewhere down the line they were presented to a sympathetic judge or jury, they would indeed increase the dollar value of your claim. _______________________________________________________________
This article was authored by Daniel Baldyga. Copyright © 2003, by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the Daniel G. Baldyga.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for background information. Its purpose is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga nor Free Advice.com makes any guarantee of any kind whatsoever, NOR purports to engage in rendering any professional legal service, substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired, IT IS THE INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN IT.