Don't Assume Your Lost Wages Will Get Paid When You Are Involved in a Personal Injury Claim in Phoenix
In Arizona, when you have been involved in a serious accident, an injury victim must prove the amount of money he/she lost from work as a result of the injury. You may think that this sounds simple, but it can create significant challenges if not documented adequately. Recovering lost wages is often a fight with the insurance companies when your serious injury accident occurred in Arizona. We represent people all over the Valley (Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Avondale, Apache Junction, Glendale) who have been seriously injured because of the negligence of another individual. This article will give you some hints on recovering your lost wages.
This article only discusses wages that were lost presently, not for the future. That is, many times a person may have such a debilitating injury that they cannot return to their pre-accident occupation, and they will earn less money for the rest of their life. That is called a decreased ability to earn future income. There are also people who can maintain their current occupation but have to work less hours or there are people who can stay with their company but have to be put on light duty or in a different position. Lastly, some people after a serious injury, can no longer work again. For all of these people, that comes under a different legal scenario and we will address that in another article.
For those injury victims that have present lost wages, the first thing that you have to do to recover your lost wages is to make sure that you get a doctor's note. Also, the doctor should retain a copy for their file. We know this sounds elementary; however, every insurance company will request a note from a doctor that says the person is unable to work.
The note can be a simple note, even written on a script pad that the doctor would normally write out for a prescription. This note is best when it includes information such as the specific limitation that prevents work, the specific fact that someone cannot work, and the date the injury victim will be able to return to work. Once the date to return to work arrives, the injured person that is unable to return to work must get a new slip. Every case is different but this is general information for documenting lost wages.
We also suggest to our clients that they seek medical care with their family doctor and their specialist doctor, and that both doctors write a lost wage note. We know it sounds like you are getting a "permission slip" to miss work, but unfortunately, this is the documentation that is being looked for by the insurance adjusters.
Once you get the documentation from your doctor, it is vital to obtain documentation from your employer showing the work history of the person, how much they had made prior to the incident, and how much money was not paid out following the injury.
Many times it is even worth documenting the lost time from work that was paid through paid sick time and vacation time. This leave time was lost as a result of the negligence of someone else, and you are entitled to be reimbursed for that loss, just as you are entitled to the money you lost in wages that would have been earned. Some employers will provide all the documentation needed, such as describing the injured person's job responsibilities, positions, how long that person has been employed prior to the incident, and so forth.
Having both the note from the employer and the doctor is very beneficial. At that point, then it needs to be discussed with the insurance adjuster to get the wages reimbursed. For small minor accidents with just a few days of lost wages, the insurance adjuster may pay; however, when you have a significant lost wage claim, the insurance adjuster more likely than not is going to put up a fight. That is when an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer who knows the laws in Arizona can help. We do not just use the above documentation but we rely on other things as well to prove that the lost wages were as a result of the accident.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer