Going through a life-altering car accident is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. When you have grounds for a large auto accident claim, the liable party is likely to fight back. Before you submit your claim, you should talk with a car accident attorney in Houston or San Antonio. You deserve adequate compensation to start rebuilding your life, and you don’t need to navigate the legal system alone.
What Happens if I Lose My Employment Due to a Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident and you can prove that someone else was at fault, the liable party is legally required to compensate you for your medical expenses and any lost wages. In a minor accident, you might miss a few days of work or you might not miss any work at all. People who miss time while they recover can submit a claim for their lost current wages, including part-time work and missed overtime opportunities.
The value of your claim goes up significantly if you have grounds for reduced or lost earning capacity. In that case, you can claim both current and future wages by filing a third-party liability claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Your car accident attorney will help you identify which is applicable in your case. Some individuals also qualify for short-term disability or social security disability benefits.
Reduced or Lost Earning Capacity
What Is Reduced or Lost Earning Capacity?
Reduced or lost earning capacity is a term that applies to people who will never fully recover from their injuries. In the case of reduced earning capacity, they are only able to go back to work if they take a less demanding job at a lower pay rate. In the case of lost earning capacity, they are prevented from doing any future work at all. Traumatic brain injuries and paralysis are often grounds for claiming lost earning capacity.
How Is Reduced Earning Capacity Calculated?
Putting a value on reduced earning capacity often takes a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable in economics. In some cases, an economist might be called to testify as an expert. Your car accident attorney will need to make projections that span the entire course of your career, whether you were three years away from retirement or just starting to work at the time of your accident. Your current rate of pay and promotional prospects will be taken into account, along with long-term predictions for the market.
As you can see, calculating reduced earning capacity is a subjective process that is open-ended. One economist might come up with figures that are very different from another economist’s best projections. It is your attorney’s job to build a convincing case that will get you compensated according to the highest estimates, and to argue convincingly on your behalf.
What Evidence Can Prove Reduced or Lost Earning Capacity
Your car accident attorney will guide you through the process of collecting proof of your injuries and the toll they will take on your career. A letter from your doctor saying that you can no longer work is usually needed, along with a statement from your company outlining your typical hours and disclosing your rate of pay.
When calculating your current and future wages, your attorney will account for the overtime hours you could have worked, your vacation days, and other benefits. Your company should include these details in its letter. You should also submit copies of your pay stubs and recent tax returns.
What If You Are Self-Employed?
While the process of calculating lost earning capacity is a little less straightforward for self-employed people, they are entitled to the same compensation as individuals who work for a company. If you are self-employed, your attorney will help you demonstrate your typical earnings by showing previous tax returns, correspondence between yourself and clients, and your accounting records.
What if You Got Injured at Work?
When car accidents occur on the job, it is important to determine if your employer was at fault. Employees who are injured as a result of their employers’ negligence usually need to file for workers’ compensation.
The workers’ compensation system was put in place to make filing for benefits faster and easier for injured employees, however, it limits the size of the payouts and does not allow for employee lawsuits. If it is legally possible, your attorney will probably instruct you to file a third-party liability claim or a personal injury lawsuit instead.
If your employer caused your accident, and if they have workers’ compensation insurance, you will submit a claim to the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation. Benefits for lost earning capacity are referred to as “total disability” payments, and they are reserved for severe cases. Payments are usually given at a rate of 75% your normal income. Qualifying conditions include:
- Total blindness
- Severed spinal cord
- Traumatic brain injury
Third-Party Liability Claims
One way to increase your compensation is by determining if you can submit a third-party liability claim instead of filing for workers’ compensation. If another driver who had no relation to your employer caused your accident, you will most likely be able to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company.
Third-party liability claims tend to yield higher payouts because they are not subject to the same restrictions as workers’ compensation. Your car accident attorney can help you identify whether or not you have grounds for a claim against a third-party. In some rare cases, injured individuals are able to apply for workers’ compensation and submit a third-party liability claim simultaneously.
Unlike some states, Texas does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who opt out are called “non-subscribers”, and they usually work with an insurance company that provides benefits to injured employees. If your employer has workers’ compensation, you are not allowed to sue, regardless of your injury. However, if your employer is a non-subscriber, you are legally allowed to file a lawsuit against them.
Legal Expertise Means a Stronger Case
When you are going up against big insurance companies, it is important to remember that they are not on your side. They will seek to downplay your injuries and avoid their obligation to pay, regardless of how life-altering your accident was. In fact, the more costly your injury, the more they will seek to avoid expensive payouts.
Working with a knowledgeable car accident attorney in Houston or San Antonio is your best defense against the insurance companies. A good attorney will make the process more straightforward and less confusing, which is essential when you are already dealing with the stress of a severe injury.
If you are worried about legal fees, know that many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means you will only pay if you are offered a settlement or win a case.
Find a Car Accident Attorney in Houston or San Antonio
Receiving adequate compensation for a severe injury requires a strongly argued case that is backed with evidence. No one should be left worrying about their livelihood after suffering an injury that wasn’t their fault. Our car accident attorneys in Houston and San Antonio are committed to serving your best interests and helping you hold the liable party accountable. To set up a free consultation, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC, today!