Often times an injury after a car accident will prevent you from working, either for a temporary amount of time or permanently. Fortunately for accident victims, the laws in South Carolina allow for an injured person to recover compensation for both past and future lost wages.
Proving Past Lost Wages
In order for someone to recover past lost wages after an automobile accident, it isn’t as simply as saying, “I’m hurt and I can’t work.” Rather, your ability or inability to work must be documented and proven by a medical expert, usually your treating physician. In most cases, this can be proven by simply speaking with your physician about your injuries and job duties and obtain a written work-excuse signed by your doctor.
In addition to your written work-excuse, you will also need to document how much time and money you have lost as a result of your inability to work. If you are an employee for a company, this can usually be proven by obtaining a “lost wage statement” from your employer or supervisor. You will likely also need to provide additional forms of earnings such as tax returns, pay stubs or check stubs.
Your Employer May Offer Work Accommodations
There are also times when a doctor will not completely write a patient out of work but will assign certain restrictions they may or may not be able to perform. In this instance, you will need to see if the restrictions that are provided are within your job duties. If they are not, you will then need to contact your employer to determine if they can accommodate your restrictions. If your employer is able to accommodate your restrictions, you should continue to work and earn your wages. Simply put, if you are able to work you need to work or at least make an effort to work, if possible.
Proving Future Lost Wages
In the event you may have significant and permanent injuries that may result in long-term future lost wages (i.e., you lost your job and can’t go back or must find a different profession), you will likely need to work with a vocational expert and economic expert to document and prove your lost earnings. A vocational expert is someone who is considered a qualified authority in the area of vocational rehabilitation, earning capacity, lost earnings and other areas needed to adequately determine and prove your ability to work and/or alternative employment options. Likewise, an economic expert is someone who is qualified to calculate your potential lost earnings based on your previous income and life expectancy. These can be invaluable tools in proving and presenting your claim for lost wages to insurance companies and potential jurors.
Recovering Lost Wages Will Likely Require the Help of A Personal Injury Attorney
I don’t always advocate for everyone to hire a lawyer simply because they have been involved in an automobile accident. Usually, in my opinion, the need to hire an attorney will depend on how significant your injuries are and what types of damages you may be entitled to recover. Unfortunately, in my experience, you will usually need to hire an attorney to recover the true value of your past lost wages. You will certainly need a lawyer to recover the true value of your future lost wages because you will need expert opinions and insurance companies fight these types of claims vigorously. Likewise, there can be litigious issues that arise if you are receiving or applying for any type of disability benefits that an attorney can help you navigate through the process.
If you are looking to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney in Charleston, SC, please feel free to give us a call at 843-991-6528, or contact our firm through our contact page and we will be more than happy to see if we can help.