Car accidents can be life-altering events, causing not only physical pain and suffering but also significant financial strain. One of the most pressing concerns for many victims is the loss of income due to their inability to work.
This blog post aims to guide you through the process of seeking lost wages after a car accident in Florida, focusing on the specific laws and statutes involved.
Understanding Lost Wages
Lost wages refer to the income you would have earned had you not been injured in the accident. This includes not only missed work but also lost earning capacity for future earnings if the injury is long-term or permanent.
It’s important to understand that you have a right to seek compensation for these losses.
Florida’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law
Florida operates under a modified comparative negligence rule, which means anyone who is more than 50% responsible for causing their own injuries will not be able to receive compensation. An accident victim can recover 60% of the damages if they are judged 40% at fault.
The state switched to a modified comparative negligence system from a pure comparative on March 24, 2023. The old system allowed a person who was more than 50% at fault to recover compensation. Florida also changed the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit from four years to two years.
Filing a Claim for Lost Wages
To file a claim for lost wages under your PIP insurance, you’ll need to provide certain documentation. This includes proof of income (such as pay stubs or tax returns) and a note from a medical professional stating that you are unable to work due to your injuries. It’s crucial to file your claim promptly and accurately to ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Limitations of PIP and Pursuing a Lawsuit
While PIP insurance provides essential coverage, it has its limitations. For instance, it only covers 60% of lost wages up to a limit of $10,000. In cases where your losses exceed these limits, or if you suffer serious injury as defined by Florida Statute § 627.737(2), you may step outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In this scenario, the at-fault party’s insurance company is typically liable for paying for repairs, medical expenses, and other costs associated with the accident. Most auto accident claims are resolved through an out-of-court settlement.
Claiming for Loss of Earning Capacity in Florida
In the state of Florida, if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss of earning capacity.
Understanding Loss of Earning Capacity
Loss of earning capacity refers to the reduction in a person’s ability to earn income due to an injury. It is different from lost wages, which refer to the actual earnings lost from the time of injury to the date of settlement or verdict.
Legal Requirements for a Claim
To successfully claim for loss of earning capacity in Florida, you must prove:
- Causation: The injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
- Impact: The injury has impaired your ability to earn income. This involves demonstrating that your earning capacity has been adversely affected by the injury.
Calculating Loss of Earning Capacity
The calculation involves complex considerations and often requires expert testimony. Factors considered include:
- Age, Life Expectancy, and Work-Life Expectancy: These factors help determine the potential future earnings that have been lost due to the injury.
- Occupation: The nature of your job can significantly impact your claim. For instance, if you’re in a profession that requires physical labor, an injury could drastically reduce your earning capacity.
- Talents, Skill, and Training: These factors are considered to assess how your ability to perform certain tasks or jobs has been affected by the injury.
- Quality and Quantity of Work: This involves comparing your work performance before and after the injury.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyers Today for Help!
Given the complexity involved in these claims, it is advisable to seek legal representation. A South Florida auto accident attorney can help gather necessary evidence, engage appropriate experts, and advocate for your rights.
Navigating the legal landscape after a car accident can be complex and challenging. An experienced personal injury attorney at Klotzman Law Firm can guide you through the process and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your lost wages and other damages.