Including Vacation and Sick Time In Your Lost Wages Claim
Did you have to take paid time off work to take care of things after your car accident? Getting a rental car, going to the doctor, getting medical treatment or physical therapy, dealing with insurance, and running around town trying to keep your life from falling apart.
If you have taken any paid vacation days or sick days dealing with the aftermath of your accident, you may be entitled to compensation for that time.
The reason behind that is you no longer have that paid time off to use in the future — and this is considered a loss on your part.
You are entitled to be compensated for that loss because you would not have otherwise used your vacation and sick time if not for the negligence of the at-fault driver. Although they can’t give your time off back, they can compensate you for having to use it. This would be part of a lost earnings or lost wages claim, even though you were still paid.
The value of each sick day is one day’s wages.
You should be reimbursed for your sick days. Otherwise, you no longer have those days if you need to stay home to recover from the flu or any other ailment.
For example, let’s say you had accrued nine sick days for the year. If you used seven while recovering from your injuries, you should seek reimbursement for the value of those seven sick days.
As with sick days, each vacation day is one day’s wages.
If you had to use up any of your vacation days while recovering from your injuries, you should be compensated for the paid time off. In all fairness, you should not have to lose those days thanks to someone else’s negligence.
How to Get Compensated For Lost Vacation and Sick Days
Your leave time was lost as a result of the negligence of the at-fault driver. Therefore, you are entitled to be reimbursed for that loss.
Most employers will provide all the necessary documentation — such as a company letterhead stating your name, title, salary and how much time you missed. Better yet, it will detail your job duties, whether any heavy lifting is required, and how long you have been employed before the accident.
Talk To Your Doctor
First, let your doctor know you feel you would benefit from some time off from work.
You want medical records to support your need to take time off from work. Your doctor will have a series of questions about your employment, whether it involves heavy lifting, whether you sit for long periods of time, and whether you are responsible for multiple employees and whether you travel or drive for long periods of time.
These questions will help your doctor assess whether or not the requirements of your job could hinder your recovery to optimal health. Once your doctor has conducted this assessment, be prepared to continue to discuss how you are feeling while working. That information will make it back into your medical records. All of this information supports the necessity taking time off from work.
Now we just need to prove that you did take time off from work.
Proof of Lost Wages
You need to collect documents to prove you took the time off. Here is a list of documents you need to collect to prove your time taken off work.
- 1 month of pay stub prior to the accident
- Paystubs during the accident showing time taken off work
- Income tax returns for the past year
- Your employer’s benefits handbook
- Union contract for the last 5 years
- Letter from your employer outlining your request for time off
Why do you need all this information? Not all of it may be applicable to you, but collecting it will ensure your claim will be paid 100% of the value it deserves. If your documentation is incomplete, the adjuster may discount the value of the claim.
These documents prove quite a bit and improve the financial amount of your claim. Paystubs are particularly important — here’s why.
Paystubs can prove:
- Hourly or salaried wages
- Your base pay rate
- Total hours worked
- “Premium” pay amounts
- Bonuses or incentive pay amounts
- Deductions (gives clues to the fringe benefits provided by the employer)
- Employee contributions to a Section 125 plan (health care reimbursement plan amounts aren’t shown on the W-2)
- Additional sources of income that may have been impacted by the accident
In addition, you may want to provide the employer’s handbook that outlines sick and vacation time. This will help you prove that this is a benefit controlled and/or limited by your employer.
For example, if you have 3 weeks of vacation time, but only because you have been with your employer for an extended period of time, or have completed other required career advancements to achieve this time off. That information adds value to the time you were forced to take as a result of the car accident.
Once you have gathered this information, provide it to either your attorney or to the insurance adjuster. Make sure you understand what the value of your vacation and sick time means financially. Carefully review all the documentation you are providing so you and your attorney can negotiate the best possible settlement.
To learn more about recouping your lost vacation and sick time, read more information in the Claiming Lost Wages article.