Yes. Here is what I tell my clients.
Get proof for your earnings. Get your doctor to say in writing that you had to miss work because of the accident. And get back to your work as soon as your doctor lets you.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you are allowed to recover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Insurance companies are less likely to recognize lost wages than pain and suffering or medical bills. It’s usually hard to argue with medical bills. Someone – usually your insurance company – is paying them. And people don’t incur medical bills unless a doctor determines they are necessary.
But lost wages are different. Although they probably have a bigger impact on your life than anything else – the pain goes away, an insurance company usually pays most of the medical bills, but no one pays you for missing work – insurance companies count on jurors being skeptical about lost wages.
Why? Because any time you miss work, unless you can prove you had to, people will say that you are loafing. And it’s hard to disprove. And any jury is going to have a “Lou Gehrig” on it – someone on it who has stayed at the same job for the last 20 years, and has never missed a day. That person may be a great person, but you probably don’t want him on your jury.
So if you’re asking for lost wages because of a truck accident, here is what I tell my clients:
1) Ask your doctor straight up if you can work. If your doctor says you can’t work, get him to write a note to your employer saying so. Even if it’s self evident. If your injury is less severe than an amputation, people will question it. And make sure that a copy of the note stays in your doctor’s file, and that the original goes to your employer.
2) Back up your lost wages with proof of what you were making before, and that you had work available during that time. For some jobs, this is easy. For others – particularly in construction – it can be a little challenging. The insurance company will want to see your W2’s and 1099 forms (for independent contractors) for the last three years before the accident, as well as paycheck stubs for the periods before the accident and after your recovery.
3) Get back to work as soon as you can if your doctor says you can. If the pain is too much, that’s ok – but get back to the doctor and have him note that, and when he will let you return. It shows you would rather work than loaf.
If I am asking a jury or insurance company for lost wages because of a client’s injury, I want a doctor to be able to explain every day that my client missed from work.
One more thing – most insurance companies won’t recognize lost wages if they are not caused by an injury, but by your not having a substitute car. You can recover the cost of a rental for the reasonable period necessary to repair it (or maybe just to replacement, if your car was totaled). But most insurance companies won’t pay you for more than a day’s lost wages due to car damage.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I use anything I can to prove lost wages – but nothing beats a doctor and w2 forms. If you are worried about getting paid from the time you have to miss from work, call me, a lawyer experienced in truck accident lawsuits. My phone is 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.