It is not uncommon that our clients miss at least a little bit of work time as a result of a collision. In reality most miss at least a little bit of work. Whether because the collision occurred on their way to work so they're just a couple hours late , or because they miss more substantial amounts due to attending medical appointments, or because they miss work because their injuries prevent them from being able to work, lost wages are a common aspect of most personal injury claims.
Under most situations, we are able to help our clients recover these lost wages both in the short term and in the long term. Most of our clients carry Personal Injury Protection (also called PIP) coverage. This coverage not only covers medical bills caused by a collision up to the policy limit, it likely covers lost wages. This coverage, often called “Income Continuation” provides a certain amount of income loss following a collision. Typically the coverage begins 14 days after the collision, extends for a year, and pays a percentage of the insured's weekly income up to the policy limit. This coverage is available regardless of fault and is required to be offered in the state of Washington on all automobile insurance policies—the party getting the insurance has the right to reject it, usually to shave a few dollars off the premium.
In addition to this short term remedy, we seek to recover 100% of our clients' lost wages attributable to the crash that caused them to miss work. The at-fault party is liable for all damages caused by their negligence. This liability includes lost wages immediately following a collision and lost wages for the remainder of our client's life—for example if our client is permanently impaired in their ability to work. Often times recovering for these types of losses requires an evaluation of prior earnings by performing an evaluation of prior tax documents and pay stubs. Sometimes the loss is relatively easy to compute. Other times, it requires evaluation by a forensic accountant and/or a vocational expert to assess the total loss. If/when we are able to recover for our clients in this way, we may have to pay back their PIP insurer for amounts they already collected—preventing a double recovery.
Evaluating and proving wage loss claims is not always easy, but it is possible and is often a significant portion of our clients' recoveries.