When you can’t work after getting injured in an accident, it becomes especially difficult to handle medical and living expenses without an income. Even if you win your personal injury claim, the settlement comes as a one-off payment and can take months or years.
If you’re wondering who will pay your wages while you’re out of work, we’ll help you explore a few options. However, we highly recommend that you consult a West Virginia personal injury lawyer you trust who can help you pursue available legal avenues for financial aid.
Possible sources of income you can consider
Two things are likely at the top of your mind; the first is your medical bills and how to pay for healthcare until your claim is settled. Unless you have suitable health insurance, medical expenses can pile up quickly after your accident.
Talk to your lawyer about lien-based treatment, which means you get treated on a contingency basis and pays when your personal injury claim is settled.
The second problem is how to support yourself and your family without an income, especially if you weren’t formally employed. Since the claims process can take a long time, you need to find a way to pay rent and utility bills, buy food, and handle other living expenses.
If you were formally employed, your employer may be able to offer certain benefits for a time while you recover. These benefits include paid time off (PTO), vacation days, personal days, and sick days.
Paid benefits are a reliable stream of income until you’re fit to work again. They’re a good option if it only takes you a few days to a few weeks to recover, but will not work for long-term injuries.
However, employee benefits are easily accessible and can provide a financial cushion while you figure out how to live until you can get back to work.
Worker’s comp payments
If you got injured while on the job, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation payments.
Worker’s comp payouts cover medical expenses, wage loss, and death benefits for dependents in case of a fatality. The amount paid depends on the severity of the injury and how long it takes you to recover, ranging from temporary partial disability to permanent full disability.
Accident and disability insurance
If you or your employer had purchased disability insurance before the accident, you might be able to receive a portion of your earnings while you recover. There are short-term and long-term disability insurance options that can help you make up for lost income after your accident.
If you’re unable to work after an accident due to a disability, you may also be able to apply for the federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This program provides you with income whether or not your injury is work-related, so long as:
- You have sufficient work credits to qualify
- Have a condition that fits SSDI’s definition of a disability
- Are unable to work for at least a year
SSDI has both short and long-term disability payment plans varying from nine weeks to several years. If you are a low-income individual, you may also qualify for Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI). Both SSI and SSDI are very difficult to qualify for, so get your lawyer to help.
Personal funds and savings
If you have sufficient personal savings or passive income from assets such as rentals, it may be much easier for you to maintain a decent quality of life. You remain eligible to recover all the money you spend on medical expenses and other costs from the settlement.
You can borrow money from family, friends, and colleagues to help you stay afloat as you wait to recover and get back to work. You can also consider taking formal loans such as:
- Personal loan (secured and unsecured)
- Home equity loan
- Pre-settlement loan
Going into debt after your accident is usually not a good idea, especially if you can’t get favorable interest rates. However, if it’s the only option you have, have your attorney advise you on the best course of action to minimize the negative financial impact.
Compensation for lost wages after an accident
You’re entitled to recover damages for lost wages and income after suffering an accident resulting from another person’s fault or negligence. Wage loss recovery is straightforward. The amount of damages is calculated from your most recent paychecks and invoices. If you have proof of non-salary benefits such as tips, you can also seek damages for them.
For example, if you had to take three months from work to recover, you can recover all the lost wages for that period. This is called damages for past wage loss. If you suffered a severe injury or disability, you can recover damages for future wage loss as well.
Compensation for future wage loss and reduced earning capacity
Damages for future wage loss refers to damages for the wage loss you’re yet to suffer. For example, if you had to take an indefinite leave from work, you can claim damages for the future period during which you won’t be able to work.
You can also recover damages for reduced earning capacity. For example, if you lost a finger and can no longer do your old job, you may recover damages for your diminished earning capacity.
Proving how much to recover is much more difficult when it comes to future wage loss and requires input from financial experts, expert witnesses, and solid evidence.
How a lawyer can help
The financial implications of an accident are one of the most difficult things to deal with. Even though you’re entitled to full compensation, it can be very difficult to recover all your lost wages without the help of a highly experienced personal injury attorney.
An attorney doesn’t just help in court. They negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf and guide you throughout the claims process. That’s why you should consult a trustworthy personal injury lawyer from The Miley Legal Group as soon as possible after your accident.