One of the worst things about being in a serious auto accident is not being able to work. Besides the pain, the discomfort, and all the problems that comes with an accident, losing your income can easily send you into a tailspin. Most people need their income to support themselves and or their families. Without the ability work losing everything can be a possibility. Luckily, Michigan is one of the most comprehensive Auto No-fault states in the country. Regardless of whether the accident was caused by someone else, or not, your own insurance company is supposed to pay up to 85% of your lost wages for the first three years after your accident (the maximum benefit is just over $5,700 a month). This benefit in many cases can be a life saver.
How To Get Wage Loss Benefits From Your Insurance Company
After an accident, you can submit a claim to your insurance company and report to them that you can no longer work. They will ask for your tax returns, pay stubs and other forms of verification of how much you work and how much you get paid. The insurance company will also determine if they think your injury is bad enough to prevent you from working. Sometimes this is an easy call. If you work on your feet all day and all of sudden you broke your leg or suffered a serious injury that prevents you from standing, it will be a more or less of a given that you will be unable to work. In those cases, getting wage loss from your own insurance company should be relatively easy.
However, for most injuries, you will likely be required to get a note from your doctor saying that you cannot go back to work. The doctor should note what your injuries are and what the restrictions are that you have that prevent you from working. The doctor will also give a date for how long they believe you will be off work, or alternatively they might put a return to work date on this slip. As long as you continue to be disabled and unable to work your doctor should continue writing off work slips and make sure that they are forwarded to your insurance company. By making sure that there are actual doctor notes documenting that you can no longer work due to injuries that you received from the accident, your insurance company should pay for your claim.
What If The Insurance Doesn’t Pay For My Lost Wages?
This is a very common problem. Insurance companies sometimes drag out your claim under the guise of a continuing “investigation” only to determine months after the fact they won’t pay your claim for lost wages. It may not matter how much proof of your income you supply or how many medical records you sent them or had them collect. The bottom line is that insurance companies often operate from stand point of extreme skepticism. They don’t make money by being generous. They assume you’re not hurt and then try to use any little excuse to not pay despite an over whelming amount of evidence that you should be receiving wage loss.
In these situations, you are faced with only two real options. Take their rejection or fight the wrongful denial. To fight the denial, you will likely need to hire an attorney. They can figure out what type of information you can use to supplement your claim, or they can file a lawsuit to prove that you are owed wage loss benefits. The Michigan No-Fault law is clear, if you were working and were injured in a car accident and those injuries prevent you from working, you are owed wage loss. A lawyer can make sure you get what you deserve.
What If I Wasn’t Working At THe Time of The Accident? Can I Still Receive Wage Loss?
If you were not working at the time of the accident, all is not lost. Under MCL 500.3107(b) there is a temporarily unemployed provision. This provision states that if you were not working at the time of accident and were temporarily unemployed, then your income should be calculated by using the last month that you were employed full time prior to the accident. This means that even if you were not earning a wage at the time of the accident, it is possible to still receive wage loss benefits. In order to do this you must demonstrate you were not simply unemployed because you chose not to work, but that you were (1) actively seeking employment and there was evidence that (2) your unemployed status would not have bene permanent if the injury had not occurred. Frazier v. Allstate Ins. Co., 231 Mich. App 172, 176 (1998). In layman’s terms this means that you have to have been previously working in a verifiable field with a history of employment, and that you were actively looking for work, and but for the accident and your injuries, you would have been employed. Consequently, it is extremely important to talk to a lawyer after your accident as you may be entitled to wage loss even if you were not currently working.
I’m Receiving Wage Loss But The Insurance Company is Threatening To Terminate My Benefits?
Getting your insurance company to pay wage loss isn’t the last step in the process. Your own insurance company is supposed to pay for 85% percent of your wage loss for the first three years after the accident. However they can terminate your benefits at any point. Many times they will send you to one of their doctors to say they you can go back to work or that your injuries weren’t really caused by the accident in the first place. After this doctor writes their report, usually with the foregone conclusion before you ever step in their office, the insurance company will promptly send you a letter terminating your wage loss benefits and maybe other no-fault benefits as well.
If this occurs, and it happens every often, you need to hire a lawyer to fight back. The statute of limitations in Michigan can certainly bar you from receiving full compensation so it paramount that you talk to an attorney Immediately so that you can protect your rights and your full benefits.
Call Us For Help and A Completely Free and Confidential Consultation Over The Phone
The Clark Law Office has been working on behalf of injured victims for over 30 years and have seen all the tricks in the Insurance company’s play book. If you don’t know what to do or have been denied or terminated from receiving benefits, give us a call at (517) 347-6900 to talk about so that we can help you get the recovery you are entitled to after your auto accident.