If you’ve been in a serious auto accident, you’re definitely going to need to take some time off from your job. How much time you take off depends on the nature of your injuries and the nature of your work. An injury that keeps someone away from their office job for a day or two might keep someone away from their physical labor job for much longer, if not permanently. Getting justice for wage loss or lost income is one of the most serious and impactful components after your medical bills of your accident claim.
There is some good news: Washington State law permits you to be compensated by the insurance company for time that you’ve missed from work due to an accident caused by another driver. You’re entitled to direct wages lost, and all the money that you would have been paid during that time (for example, if you took vacation or sick time, you will be compensated for that even if you were paid by your company). If your injuries keep you from progressing in your career, you can be compensated for the loss of that potential income as well.
But, getting to the point where you’re cashing a check for the time you’ve missed is a ways off. First, you need to know what to do right now to protect your income and living situation.
The first thing to do is protect your employment status. If you can’t work immediately after an accident, get a doctor’s note. You want to make sure your job is still there for you when you come back. Communicate with your employer about taking vacation and sick time. The worst thing you can do is be absent from your job without telling your employer why. You might have to file an FMLA claim to make sure you’ll still have your job when you’ve recovered.
If you are unable to attend work and won’t be paid for that time, PIP coverage on your insurance offers supplemental income after two contiguous weeks of sick leave. While this isn’t usually a large amount of money (usually around $200 per week) it can make a big difference if you’re trying to recover from an accident and make ends meet.
Remember to save your paystubs! Your injury attorney can include lost wages, including lost vacation and sick pay, as part of the demand package submitted to the insurance company. You should not take a loss in wages for being the victim of the negligence of another driver.
Remember: This one thing can ruin your auto accident case!
There is a period of time immediately after an accident — regardless of how badly you were injured or how much time the accident took you away from work — when your case is at the most risk. Right after an accident, you’ll get a call from an insurance adjuster who will want to talk to you about your accident and send you some forms to sign. Do not speak with the insurance adjuster or sign anything they send you before you have a chance to discuss your case with an attorney. The adjuster may talk to you like they’re your best friend and advocate, but here’s the reality: The insurance adjuster is not your friend. Their job is to minimize the amount of money their employer has to pay out to you, and they’ll use every dirty trick in the book. What you say to the adjuster can and will be used against you. They’ll use the forms they send you to justify not paying you for your medical bills and losses. Speaking with a qualified Seattle personal injury attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies can save you a lot of grief later.
Do you have questions about dealing with insurance companies? Give us a call at 206-285-1743.