If you are injured due to the negligence of another, your lost wages are typically considered part of the damages you can claim against the other party and their insurance company. Any fair settlement or verdict should recognize the value of those lost wages. For instance, in an auto accident case, we will negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company that includes all or a portion of your lost wages.
In addition, your own auto insurance policy, specifically your personal injury protection (PIP), may compensate you for lost wages up front, before we take legal action against the at-fault driver(s). If this is the case, your auto insurance company will be compensated as part of the final settlement.
However – in order to receive compensation for time lost at work you will have to carefully document the time. There are a couple steps you will need to take to improve your chances of receiving compensation.
First, if your doctor verbally tells you to delay returning to work, or to return to work with reduced job duties, ask your doctor to write a signed note. Written documentation is the easiest way to prove your time missed at work was medically necessary.
Second, if your doctor gives you a hand-written note, make sure to keep it for your own records and make a photocopy. Handwritten notes are not automatically made a part of your medical file, and thus need to be kept track of manually.
Next, keep track of all medical appointments that require you to miss time at work. If you can, document them with written proof, such as a doctor’s note or email.
In addition, you will need to make sure that your employer keeps records of both the time that you missed, and the wages you would have earned if you had worked those hours. Do not just assume your employer keeps track of this information. A paystub is also insufficient, in the view of the law.
Instead, establish a plan with your supervisor to document the time lost as well as your lost wages. After your treatment is completed, we will typically send a letter to your employer stating hours missed and wages lost which they must complete and sign.
If you are self-employed, documenting lost wages is more difficult. Some examples of documentation we have used in the past include checks sent to a person hired to replace you, tax documents, and contracts with established clients.
If your doctor allows you to return to work, but only under restrictions to your job duties, let your supervisor know immediately. If your employer chooses to fire you because you are no longer able to perform your job, request a letter confirming that in writing.
We will work with you to recover lost wages, but it is up to you to help us develop the documentation necessary to prove your losses.