Being in a motor vehicle accident generally results in insurance claims.
A car insurance policy may cover these accident claims.
Depending on the circumstances of the car crash, you may seek compensation for:
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Impairments and disabilities
- Property damage
Loss of income is one of the most significant losses that many accident victims sustain. If they incur severe injuries, they could be out of work for many months. In some cases, they may never return to work if they sustain a permanent disability because of the car crash.
If you incurred lost wages after a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss of income.
PIP Claims for Lost Wages After a Car Accident
Florida insurance requirements state that all drivers must purchase no-fault insurance coverage. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance pays benefits regardless of who causes the car accident. However, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days after the accident to be eligible for PIP benefits.
PIP benefits include reimbursement for lost wages. However, you are only entitled to 60 percent of your lost wages and loss of earning capacity under Florida Statute §627.736.
The payment of your loss of income claim is subject to the policy terms. The minimum PIP insurance requirement for Florida drivers is $10,000. That amount covers all PIP benefits, including medical bills. Therefore, if your medical bills total more than $10,000, there may be nothing left to pay lost wages.
You can, of course, purchase a PIP insurance policy with higher term limits.
Suing the Other Driver for Loss of Income After a Car Crash
Florida laws allow an accident victim to sue the at-fault driver for damages under specific circumstances. You must meet the serious injury threshold to have a cause of action against the other driver.
Serious injuries are defined in the code as:
- Disfigurement or scarring of a permanent and significant nature
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
- An injury that has a reasonable degree of medical possibility to result in permanent injury
If your injuries meet or exceed the above threshold, you could file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. You could be entitled to recover full reimbursement for all loss of income.
However, you have the burden of proving the other driver caused the accident. Generally, you are required to prove the other driver’s negligence directly led to the car crash. Furthermore, you must prove that the car crash caused your injuries and you sustained damages because of the accident.
If you can prove fault and liability for your damages, then you would need to provide evidence of your lost wages.
Evidence Required to Prove Lost Wages After a Car Accident
Even though you may be entitled to reimbursement for lost income after an accident, you must have evidence proving your loss.
Evidence that is used to prove a loss of income includes, but is not limited to:
- Evidence proving that you sustained injuries and received medical treatment that prevented you from working
- Copies of proof of your gross income, such as W-2 statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and other income statements
- A statement from your employer that verifies your wages and that you did not work for the specified time
Even though you have the above evidence, an insurance provider may deny or undervalue your auto accident claim. If so, contacting a Miami personal injury attorney may be in your best interest.
Claims for Future Loss of Income
In addition to recovering compensation for past lost wages, you could also be entitled to compensation for future loss of income. Future loss of income would include lost wages and the reduction of earning potential because of a disability or permanent impairment.
Claims for future lost wages require that you prove several elements:
- You sustained an injury that will prevent you from working in the future or will reduce your earning potential
- The accident was the direct and proximate result of your injury
- The anticipated amount of money you would have earned had you not been injured
The first two elements are required to prove a loss of income claim. However, the third element is added to a future lost wages claim.
Estimating future loss of income can be complicated. In most cases, your lawyer may need to retain economists and other financial experts to calculate how much you would have earned if you could continue working. Factors that impact the value of future lost wages include, but are not limited to:
- Skills and experience
- Career outlook
- The anticipated cost of living increases or raises
Over your lifetime, you could lose millions of dollars in lost income and benefits. Having legal advice and counsel is essential to build a strong case proving you deserve compensation for your economic damages.
Comparative Fault and Loss of Income Claims
Another factor that could impact compensation for lost wages is an allegation of comparative fault. Florida uses a pure comparative fault system for apportioning damages after a car accident.
If an accident victim contributed to the cause of the collision, the person might not receive full compensation for damages. In other words, if you are partially to blame for the cause of the car crash, the amount you receive for damages is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if a jury finds that you were 40 percent responsible for the car crash, you could only receive 60 percent of your lost wages. If your loss of income totals $100,000, you would only receive $60,000 for your claim.
Allegations of comparative fault are extremely serious. They can significantly impact how much money you receive for lost wages after a car accident.
Therefore, never admit fault for a car accident or apologize at the accident scene. Before giving a recorded statement or answering questions from a claims adjuster, you may want to seek legal counsel.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyers
Lost wages after a car accident in Miami can be substantial. You deserve reimbursed for your lost income and all other damages. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free consultation with one of our Miami car accident attorneys.