What Happens if I Cannot Work Because of My Car Accident Injuries?April 13, 2021
Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. Even if the victim and the at-fault driver have insurance, there may be disagreements between the insurers and other delays in getting compensation. This is especially troubling when the victim cannot work because of personal injury.
It does not matter if the victim worked part-time, full-time, or is self-employed. Victims deserve compensation if they cannot work because of their injuries.
In these situations, an experienced car accident lawyer can help victims receive compensation for lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and even lost opportunities.
What Should I Do if I Cannot Work Because of My Car Accident Injuries?
Any car accident that causes serious enough injury to prevent the victim from working is an accident that needs the attention of a car accident lawyer.
The main reason for hiring a lawyer is because even if an insurer offers a settlement, it most likely will not be enough to cover current and future lost wages or earning capacity. A lawyer can help negotiate fair settlements and litigate if necessary.
Sometimes an employer will discharge an employee who needs time to recover from an accident, leaving them with no income and no health care benefits. This is unquestionably a time to engage a lawyer.
The bottom line is that while a car accident victim focuses on healing, the lawyer can focus on helping them get the compensation they deserve for the income or earning capacity they lost.
What are Damages for Which I can Sue if I Cannot Work Because of a Car Accident?
It depends on the circumstances and the extent of the injuries.
Some victims cannot work for a short time and lose income temporarily while they recover. Others cannot work at all, ever. Still others cannot work in the same job or the same capacity as before the accident. Finally, some accident victims can return to their previously held positions, but their injuries prevent them from ever being promoted or achieving a job with higher earnings.
Depending on the insurer and injuries, a car accident victim may sue for loss of income or lost earning capacity. For simplicity, loss of income can be thought of as wages lost in the past because inability to work, whereas lost earning capacity is future income lost from inability to work or to work at the same level.
Loss of income. This is also known as lost wages or lost income. Loss of income is the amount of income the victim would have been paid for the entire time they were unable to work. For example, if a car accident requires the victim to be on bed rest for six months and then in rehabilitation therapy for six months, they can sue for a year’s worth of lost wages.
Loss of income can include lost wages, profits, benefits, and business opportunities. These damages are generally awarded for the exact amount of loss from the time of the accident to the date of return to work or the date the medical condition is stable enough to return to work.
Lost earning capacity/loss of earnings. Lost earning capacity means the amount of income an employee will lose because their injuries resulted in a permanent or long-lasting disability that either:
- Prevents them from working at all
- Prevents them from working in the same capacity and at the same earning level as they did before the accident
For example, a victim whose injuries result in having to use a wheelchair for the rest of their life can sue for the inability to earn as much as they did when not using a wheelchair.
Lost opportunities. Although lost opportunities are difficult to calculate, a car accident victim who sustained injuries that prevent them from gaining a promotion or taking another better-paying job can sue for the potential lost income the opportunity would have provided.
How do I Prove My Inability to Work?
To recover damages for loss of income or lost earning capacity from the at-fault driver’s insurer, the victim, through their lawyer, must prove several items:
- The accident directly caused the injury that prevented them from working, or the accident made a preexisting condition worse to the point at which they could not work.
- The defendant is solely responsible for the victim’s injuries.
- The losses and damages requested can be backed up with appropriate documentation.
The following pieces of documentation can help prove all the above:
Doctor report. This report must fully detail every aspect of the victim’s injuries, including the exact nature of the injury, expected duration, diagnoses, prognoses, treatments, therapies and rehabilitation services needed, disabilities, and timing for recovery milestones. The report should also include all medical bills, prescription costs, and the expected costs of future medical needs.
Employment documentation. This documentation can help calculate the loss of income when an employee cannot work or is terminated because of inability to work. This documentation should include salary, bonuses, expected raises or promotions, benefits, perks, job responsibilities, past paychecks, and potential earning capacity for the person’s expected career track.
Self-employed people will often need to provide invoices from the same period the year before to calculate losses.
Proving future loss of income proves to be a little more complicated. Often experts will be called on to help determine future earning capacity minus the disabling injury. The experts will consider work habits and work ethics, education, character traits, and willingness or ability to change career when deciding on a fair amount of damages. When a disability is not permanent but is long-lasting, many of the same criteria, along with the doctor’s report, may be used to determine the amount of damages to request and for how long.
Police report. A police report can help substantiate who was at fault and provide documentation of the victim’s injuries and property damages.
It is important to note that the victim must mitigate damages if they recover from their injuries. They cannot simply stay at home and expect to be paid if they are able to return to work.
How can a Lawyer Help Me if I Cannot Work Because of My Car Accident?
A seasoned car accident lawyer wants victims to focus on recovering while the lawyer focuses on getting the victim fair compensation for their lost wages or loss of future income/earning capacity.
A lawyer will assist the victim in the following manner:
- Explain all the options available to an injured person who cannot work. These options include the following:
- Suing for personal injury, including:
- Loss of income
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost opportunities
- Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance
- Procure all the needed documentation to support the claim, including doctor reports, receipts, images, diagnoses and prognoses, police reports, and employment documentation.
- Calculate compensation amounts for current and future damages; call in experts as needed to substantiate amounts.
- Gather other witnesses and expert testimony as needed.
- Negotiate with insurers to ensure total and just compensation for the victim and their family.
- Prepare for a court trial if necessary.
- Communicate and coordinate among the various parties involved.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Accident Victims Who Cannot Work
Unfortunately, many car accidents cause injuries that render the victim unable to work, either temporarily, long term, or permanently. The financial devastation is enormous, adding to the victim’s stress as they try to recover. The Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will not let any at-fault driver’s insurer get away without compensating the victim fully for the loss of income and lost earning capacity. We are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies by presenting solid evidence that substantiates the victim’s complete financial losses and injuries. We will negotiate as long as necessary to get you the compensation you deserve under the law, and we will not hesitate to take the claim to court if needed. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.