How do I get paid for lost wages after an accident?
Missing out on the opportunity to work and make a living after an accident can be a stressful situation. There are different options available to you depending on your situation.
The most immediate way to be reimbursed for lost wages is through the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage provided by your own car insurance.
PIP coverage includes:
- $3,000 in medical expenses
- $250 per week in lost wages, and
- $20 a day for help with household services
These amounts are available to every person involved in the accident.
You will need two things before the insurance company will pay your lost wages:
- A note from a doctor stating that you were unable to work during a specific time period.
- A letter from your employer listing the dates that you missed work (make sure these are the same dates in the doctor’s work release) and how much you are paid at your job.
What if the accident wasn’t my fault?
If you were not at fault for the accident, then the insurance company for the driver that caused that accident will reimburse your insurance company for the PIP benefits paid to you and your insurance rates will not increase. PIP coverage through your own insurance company is available so you don’t have to wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to accept responsibility before you can get medical care and lost wages.
If you were involved in an accident as a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a passenger in a car that is not owned by a resident of your household, then there may be additional PIP benefits available to you. Please call our office and we can explain how this works.
My spouse had to miss work to help me after the accident?
Unfortunately, PIP benefits will not pay lost wages for someone who missed work to take care of you. It will only pay for the injured person’s lost wages. However, PIP will pay $20 a day to someone that had to help you perform household services after an accident. This coverage can be used to pay for services including:
- House cleaning
- Driving to appointments
- Shoveling snow
- Mowing lawns
- Grocery shopping
You need two things before PIP will pay $20 a day for help with household services:
- A doctor’s note – it must state that you are unable to perform household duties during a specific time period.
- The name and address for the person that helped you
- A daily list of tasks that were completed
I had to use my vacation/personal time.
If you were unable to work after an accident, but didn’t lose any wages because you had vacation or personal time available, you can still get paid for the days you were unable to work. Had the accident not happened, you would have been able to use that personal time for a vacation or something more enjoyable than recovering from a car accident.
What if I own my own business or lost commissions?
The insurance companies are required to pay all properly documented lost wages after an accident. Proving actual lost wages when you are self-employed or on commission can be extremely difficult. We have found that the best way to do this is with a letter from your employer stating the specific commissions that you lost or, if you are self-employed, you can submit your tax records for the previous year and average your lost income based on the time missed from work.
I make more than the $250 a week that PIP is paying me in lost wages.
If the $250 a week from PIP doesn’t cover all your lost wages and you were not at fault, then you can receive the rest from your final settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. You only get one settlement with that insurance company! At Christensen & Hymas we make sure that your lost wages, medical bills, past and future pain and suffering, future medical bills, and future lost wages are all included in that settlement.