You’ve had a busy day at work. You’re driving home safely, listening to the radio, and anticipating a relaxing evening at home. Suddenly your life is turned upside down when a car slams into you. Your car is destroyed. You have a concussion and a broken leg. You will be out of work for a few weeks. And that means you will not be paid. A simple drive home has turned into a financial nightmare.
If this sounds familiar and you have lost your livelihood in this way, help is at hand. You may be eligible to recover your lost wages and other compensation. Read on to learn about making a lost wages claim in Arizona.
What is Meant by Lost Wages?
In the event of a car accident, “lost wages” means money your employer would have paid had the accident not prevented you from doing your job. Wages lost during treatment, wages lost during recovery, and future lost income can be recovered. Any injuries included in the claim must have been caused by the car crash. You cannot claim for problems that already existed.
Two further categories of damages may also be claimed separately: “lost earning capacity” and “lost compensation.” Lost earning capacity is any disability leading to decreased ability to work. Lost compensation refers to lost financial benefits other than lost wages—for example, bonuses and other money you could reasonably have expected to receive if not for the accident.
Submitting a Claim for Lost Wages in Phoenix, AZ
There are three main options for recovering wages lost due to a car accident:
- If the other driver is at fault, claim against his or her insurance.
- Make a claim on your insurance
- If the case is serious, start legal action against the other driver. It is best to wait until you near the end of your medical treatment and recovery before starting action of this type.
It is important to understand the terms of insurance policy coverage before making a lost wages claim. The amount recoverable will depend on the type of insurance coverage against which you are claiming. Here are the various types of insurance coverage:
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage: If the driver at fault in the accident is without insurance or underinsured, you might be able to claim for your lost wages via your own coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists.
- Liability bodily injury coverage: When the other driver is at fault and sufficiently insured, you can claim for your lost wages from his or her liability bodily injury coverage.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) and Medical Payments coverage: In no-fault states (Arizona is not currently one) it doesn’t matter who caused the accident. You can collect lost wages up to your policy limit through your own insurance policy.
After making a request to an insurance company, you’ll be asked to undergo an independent medical examination and submit documentation of your injuries. You must also submit an employment authorization form, allowing your employer to inform the insurance company about your job, specifically your income. Before submitting these forms, check them thoroughly as they allow access to sensitive information.
Detailed and precise statements about your lost wages are essential when submitting a claim. Make sure you have all the necessary supporting documents and that they are complete and accurate, or your lost wages claim could fail.
Proving You Have Lost Wages
The following supporting documents are required as evidence for your lost wages claim:
- Doctor’s note: This confirms that you’ve sustained a physical injury and recommends the length of time you need to take off work to recover.
- Paystubs or other wage documents: Recent pay stubs is the simplest way to prove the amount of your lost wages. If you don’t have these, you can submit last year’s W-2(s) or tax return. If you are self-employed, you can submit last year’s tax return, as well as invoices or letters as evidence of the amount of money you could reasonably have expected to make during the time you are unable to work.
- Letter from your employer: This is required to substantiate pay stubs and other proof of wages submitted. It should also confirm the period you were away from work, the number of hours usually worked during this period, and your rate of pay.
Getting Legal Help Claiming Lost Wages in Arizona
Even though the items listed above can be used as evidence of lost wages, they may not be sufficient to actually collect on your claim.
Lost wages claims aren’t always straightforward, and legal issues may arise in relation to your medical condition.
Consult with an experienced car accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ, to be sure you receive the money you deserve!