Lost wages often occur after a car accident. Sometimes it may be a few days of missed work, but sometimes it could be weeks or months. This loss of wages can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life. Missing a few paychecks could result in the repossession of your car, the inability to make credit card payments and the general lack of feeling financially stable. In some situations, simple groceries cannot be bought if the breadwinner’s wages stop. So, how does someone who loses wages because of a car accident get reimbursed for their lost income?
Wages Being Paid Under PIP After a Car Accident
Presently, it is Florida law that every vehicle owner must carry PIP benefits on their automobile insurance policy. These benefits are paid without the necessity of determining who was at fault for the car accident (hence why they are sometimes referred to as “No-Fault Benefits”). Under Florida Statute 627.736, PIP benefits include the payment of medical expenses and lost wages. However, they do not pay 100% of the wages lost. Florida Statute 627.736(1)(b) states that this coverage pays “sixty percent of any loss of gross income and loss of earning capacity per individual from inability to work proximately caused by the injury sustained by the injured person.” These benefits must be paid every two weeks. But what about the remaining 40% of lost wages? The remaining 40% of the loss of income must be sought from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Before the PIP carrier is responsible for paying wages, the injured person is required to provide two documents: (1) a 13-week wage statement completed by their employer outlining the wages earned prior to the car accident; and (2) documentation from a medical provider allowing the injured person to be off of work. Once the PIP carrier has these two documents, wages should be paid by the PIP carrier.
It is important to note that the PIP carrier only pays a total of $10,000.00 in medical bills and wages combined. An emergency room visit with testing would likely exceed $10,000, leaving no PIP benefits available for the payment of wages lost because of a car accident.
Lost Wages Not Paid By PIP
If you are involved in a car accident and suffered a loss of income, you have the right to hold the at-fault driver responsible for your total unpaid wages. This means that if a PIP carrier paid some of your wages, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible to pay the difference. If PIP did not pay for your lost income because the benefits were exhausted with the payment of medical expenses, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible for 100% of the lost wages. However, they do not pay these wages as they are incurred. Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays these wages (or a portion of them) as a part of a lump sum settlement. Most times, the insurance company does not willingly pay for the lost wages. Often an attorney is needed to secure the payment of these damages.
Despite what others may tell you, a permanent injury is not required to be compensated for the loss of past or future wages. If you do not have a permanent injury after a car accident but still want the at-fault driver to pay for your lost wages, you can write to the at-fault driver’s insurance company and provide documentation as to your lost wages and request payment. A lawyer is not required to request these lost wages because there was no permanent injury. However, if you have a permanent injury, you should contact a lawyer to fight for these lost wages and all other damages. This is because before the insurance company pays any lost wages, they will likely want you to sign a Release of All Claims. Thus, it is recommended that you do not attempt to get lost wages from the insurance company until all your damages have been incurred and documented.
If you are injured in a car accident and suffered lost wages, consult with an attorney who understands your rights and responsibilities. Remember, insurance companies have attorneys looking out for their best interest, so should you!
Attorneys Matthew Noyes and Lorrie Robinson help families who are impacted by a Tampa Bay car accident. Attorney Matthew Noyes even wrote a book on it – Do You Really Need An Attorney After a Car Accident. If you have questions after a car accident, call Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.