Generally, damages for lost wages accrue to the victim of an accident of an accident caused due to the negligence of another party. What this means is, if you were injured in an accident and had to miss time from work (including self employed workers), you are entitled to receive compensation for your lost wages. This can come in two forms: Personal Injury compensation (this is a lump sum award or settlement that takes into consideration your lost wages – let’s call it ‘indirect reimbursement’) and/ or Personal Injury Protection Benefits (PIP) which directly reimburses you for 85% of your lost wages up to your PIP policy limit (usually $2,500 but can be more depending on what you signed up for). Usually, it’s a pretty straight forward issue.
However, pitfalls may arise when the dates that the victim missed work do not correspond with the dates for victim’s doctors or physical therapist’s (PT) visits. Also, even when dates do correspond, some insurance adjusters may contest the amount of hours away from work on the dates used for PT treatment on the premise that PT sessions are usually no more than 1 hour and therefore does not justify taking the whole day (8 hours) off from work. These scenarios could create pitfalls for an attorney while negotiating for a personal injury pain and suffering settlement on behalf of the victim however since there are no hard and fast rules, there are generally options to otherwise advocate and preserve the victim’s lost wage financial interest. Notwithstanding, the less number of days off from work that correspond with treatment dates, the more difficult a position the attorney is in arguing a nexus between lost wages damages and the injuries sustained due to the accident. Remember that the key here is provision of medical justification to stay at home or miss work because the victim was injured as a result of the accident. The doctor’s note is usually adequate to cross this threshold but in some situations it may not singularly suffice. So how do you avoid this pitfall? Obviously, the most straightforward approach is to ensure that days off from work correspond with a doctor’s visit or chiropractor’s visit date. However, given that pain and/or discomfort may be severe enough to prevent you from working – on a day that does not coincide with your treatment dates – you should keep an ongoing diary to document your injury experiences which will provide basis for exigent circumstances to show the need for time off work without visiting your medical provider in addition to obtaining a disability slip from your physician.
In any event, since each case presents different sets of facts, consult with an attorney for further advice on how to protect your lost wages compensation interests.