A car accident that injures you so severely that you cannot return to work is by its nature a serious accident. In these cases, the driver who caused the crash could be made to pay you damages for your lost wages since your inability to work is ultimately their fault. However, Florida’s no-fault insurance rules might make you go through your own insurance first before you can get compensation for your injuries.
In a Florida car accident, lost wages are first paid by your own PIP (personal injury protection) insurance. However, that only covers part of your damages, so you will inevitably miss some of your lost wages. In some cases, you can sue the at-fault driver in court to make up the difference.
For help with your injury case, call the Ft. Lauderdale car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer today at (954) 751-4258.
What Does Car Insurance Cover for Lost Wages in Florida Car Accidents?
Florida’s no-fault rules require you to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that can help with medical bills and lost wages after a crash. But the required coverage usually does not cover everything, as these policies only cover a certain percentage of the damages. As such, insurance will not cover all of your lost wages, and you should turn to our Aventura, FL car accident lawyers to help you get the rest of your lost wages covered.
Under Fla. Stat. § 627.736, drivers are required to carry PIP insurance that covers 80% of medical expenses and has “disability benefits” that cover 60% of their lost income. Along with these, you can also get household services and other expenses covered if you cannot perform those kinds of activities at home because of your injuries.
All in all, this means that 40% of your lost wages simply will not be covered. Even if you have insurance above and beyond the minimum requirements, it is unlikely to have more coverage for lost wages. That means that you will inevitably need to turn to another source to get the rest of your damages covered.
Getting Lost Wages from the Other Driver in a Florida Car Crash
If someone else caused your injuries, it isn’t fair that you have to cover 60% of your lost wages through your own insurance and just accept that the other 40% of your wages will be lost. Instead, you might be able to file a claim against the other driver.
Under certain circumstances, the additional compensation for your lost wages can be claimed in an insurance claim against the other driver’s liability insurance. Florida law also requires drivers to carry liability insurance to pay damages to the other driver. However, you can also file a lawsuit directly against them under certain circumstances.
Since your own insurance is not going to cover your damages in full, the other driver’s insurance should be the one to cover you. In many cases, you can file both an insurance claim and a lawsuit. Even so, you still might have restrictions on damages like pain and suffering unless you meet certain “serious injury” thresholds described in Fla. Stat. § 627.737(2). If you do meet those thresholds, you should consider a lawsuit because, without one, you could be leaving thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on the table.
Calculating Lost Wages for a Car Accident in Florida
You can claim “lost wages” for a car accident, but it is not always clear what exactly constitutes “lost wages” and how you calculate these values.
Gross vs. Net Income
First, note that the language of § 627.736 requires that your insurance cover 80% of “gross income.” Gross income is your income before taxes and deductions for things like Social Security. So that means you calculate this off your pre-tax “gross” wages, not your post-tax “net” income.
Limited Period of Missed Work
You can pretty simply calculate lost wages if you get a consistent wage from week to week and were out of work only for a limited period before returning to work at full capacity. In that case, you simply multiply your wages from your previous pay stubs by the number of days you missed work, and you should be able to arrive at a total value for your lost wages. Then, you should be able to claim 60% of that from your own insurance and the other 40% from the at-fault driver.
If your wages are inconsistent, we may need to produce evidence of what your average wage is. For example, if you are a “gig worker” and your work varies from week to week, we might have to prove how much income you missed by using wages from a similar month of work, especially if your work is seasonal or varies based on timing.
Ongoing Missed Work
If you will continue to miss work entirely going forward, calculations are more difficult. We can start with the same averages or typical wages discussed above, but it is important to note that most people continue to get promotions or raises as they continue to work. If you will be out of work for years or for the rest of your life, then there will likely be promotions and raises you will miss. We should include those as factors in the calculation.
If you have to reduce your work schedule or take another job that has reduced work tasks all because of your injury, then your ongoing pay might be lower than it would have been. We can use similar evidence and data discussed above to calculate what your old wages should have been, and you can claim the difference between your pre-injury wages and your post-injury wages as “lost income.”
Call Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you were hurt in a car accident, call (954) 751-4258 for a free case review with the Miami car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer.