What to Do If You’ve Missed Work and Lost Wages After an Accident
Your life can change in an instant after an auto wreck. Many people are unable to work after a car accident — sometimes for weeks or months, and sometimes permanently. Most Americans can’t make ends meet when they lose the income brought in by a job. That’s why it’s so important to know how to get disability after an accident and/or how to file a lost-wages claim.
Keep reading to find out more about recovering lost wages after a car accident and other important information.
Can you get reimbursed for lost wages in Oklahoma?
If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident in Oklahoma, you could be entitled to compensation for any of the following:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Future living expenses
If you’re at fault in the accident, then you’d file a claim with your insurance provider. If you’re not at fault and live in an at-fault state, like Oklahoma, going through the at-fault driver’s insurance is how you get lost wages after an accident. It’s often necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover lost wages and other needed compensation.
What could happen if you miss work after an accident
If you’re unable to work after a car accident for a few days, depending on your job and employer, you may only miss out on lost wages for that time. Everyone’s work situation is different — for instance, some people work under union contracts that may offer them more protection. Generally, though, the longer you’re out, the less happy your boss will be. If you have to take weeks or months to recover, you could be fired for missing work due to a car accident.
If you miss work or lose your job due to a car accident, you can file a lost-wages claim with your insurance company. In some states, like Oklahoma, you can file it with the other driver’s insurance if they’re at fault. And sometimes you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to get the compensation you deserve.
What constitutes lost wages?
The term “lost wages” refers to the money you would have earned from the time of the accident until the time you’re compensated, either through insurance or a legal settlement or verdict. The idea of lost wages differs slightly from lost compensation, which includes other financial benefits (like bonuses) you would have earned on top of your wages or salary.
Steps to prove lost income
Dealing with insurance after a car accident can take weeks or months. They require a lot of paperwork. To improve your chances of keeping them from denying your insurance claim, you should do the following:
- Follow the doctor’s instructions and show up for appointments. You need a doctor’s note to take time off from work. And to get compensation for all your injuries, you need medical records.
- Document your injuries and the time at work you’ve missed. You will need to fill these details out in the paperwork that the insurance companies require.
- Calculate how much money you’ve lost by missing work. If you earn an hourly wage, multiply hours missed by your hourly wage. If you can prove you typically work overtime, include it. Salaried employees can use the same calculation once they convert their salary to an hourly wage.
- Don’t go back to work too soon. You should take time off work after a car accident to heal from your injuries. You could risk more severe injuries or death.
What about lost opportunities?
Along with your lost-wages claim, you may be eligible for lost earning capacity if you can prove that your injuries from the accident kept you from holding a job that earns as much money as you did before the accident. You could be compensated for lost earning capacity even if it’s because the accident made a preexisting injury worse. If you can no longer work at all, the calculation will involve your age, previous earning history, skills, and the standard of living you enjoyed before the accident.
Note: Although you may be eligible for lost earning capacity damages, these claims can be difficult to prove and defend on your own. It’s highly recommended that you get the help of a car accident attorney to fight for your rights.
Should you take time off work after a car accident?
No two wrecks are the same. Everyone’s injuries and work situations will be unique, so it’s difficult to give a hard-and-fast answer about whether you should take time off work after a car accident.
That said, you can be hurt badly in a collision, and the subtle symptoms might not show up until days or weeks later. For instance, if you’ve injured your spinal cord, physical activity could make it worse and possibly leave you paralyzed. Some medical conditions take months or even years to heal. And some, like traumatic brain injuries, you may have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Can you get disability after a car accident in Oklahoma?
If you’ve been hurt in a wreck, you might want to know how to get disability after a car accident. The federal government does offer Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that can issue payments to you and sometimes your family members, but you have to meet certain conditions:
- You have to have worked long enough in a job that pays into Social Security (in Oklahoma, the cutoff is five out of the last 10 years).
- You must be able to prove that your disability will keep you from holding the job you had before the accident or any other job for at least a year, or that doing so might end in your death.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists qualifying injuries for SSDI in their Blue Book. It’s a very detailed and technical list that’s meant largely for medical and government professionals. Most people would benefit from having a lawyer helping them with it.
Additionally, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided by the SSA. Among other things, it can provide money for disabled people who have little or no income.
Lastly, there are private disability insurance policies available, or you may have one through your employer. Depending on your policy, and the nature and duration of your injuries, you may be in line for compensation as part of that coverage.
What are the most common disability listings?
The SSDI Blue Book is a master list of qualifying disabilities, but some of them (like musculoskeletal injuries) are more typical in car accidents, such as broken bones, muscular damage, and burns. Common disability listings after a traffic accident include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Severe damage to joints
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries (including burns)
Get compensation for your personal loss
Your life can get turned upside down if you’re unable to work after a car accident or if you lost your job due to accident injuries. Dealing with insurance companies, Social Security, or even a lawsuit can be overwhelming for anyone — let alone someone recovering from severe injuries. Let the experienced attorneys at McIntyre Law take that burden off your shoulders and help you with your lost-wages claim.
Whether you’ve been in a car wreck or a truck or motorcycle accident, our compassionate team of lawyers in Oklahoma is here to help. We know how to deal with insurance companies and government agencies so that you get what you need. And we’re prepared to go to court if necessary to secure your future.
Call today for a free consultation. No one can change what happened in your accident, but we can fight to make sure you continue to live in comfort and dignity.