Yes, it is possible to receive compensation for paid time off (PTO) that you’ve used after being injured in a car accident. If your accident was caused by someone else, you’re entitled to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages, which include medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering, as well as lost income. If the insurer does not offer a reasonable settlement, you may file a personal injury lawsuit and fight in court for fair compensation.
What to Include in a Lost Income Claim
Your lost income includes not only the wages you lose while off work for treatment and recovery; it also includes:
- Overtime pay you would normally have received
- Raises you would have been given
- Self-employment payments
- Vacation days
- Sick days
- Personal days
- Paid time off (PTO)
You might have to use your PTO days for a hospital stay, travel to and from medical treatments and physical therapy, appointments with your lawyer, or recovery at home. While your insurance claim or lawsuit cannot give you back the actual PTO days that you’ve used, it can demand compensation for the monetary value of those days. If, for example, you normally earn $100 per day, every day of PTO that you use due to your injuries is worth $100 in compensation.
Fighting the Insurance Company for Fair Compensation
Because the at-fault driver’s insurance company is in business to earn a profit, its adjusters will use any tactic possible to dispute, devalue, or deny your claim. The insurer is likely to resist paying for PTO you’ve used due to your accident, claiming that you don’t deserve compensation for that time because you were paid for it.
An experienced car accident lawyer, however, will know how to counter the insurer’s “3-D” tactics. Your attorney can use your PTO documentation to argue that your accident caused you to lose the option of using your paid time off for its intended purpose (a short-term illness or family vacation, for example), so you were actually deprived of the paid time off because of the at-fault driver’s negligence.
Documenting Sick Time After an Accident
The best ways to document PTO that you’ve used due to injuries sustained in an accident are to obtain your medical records and ask your employer to provide a written statement regarding your paid time off work. The statement should be printed on company letterhead with a notarized signature. It should include your name, title, salary, the PTO days you used, and the specific reasons you had to miss work on those days. Give this statement and copies of your medical records to your attorney and keep copies for yourself.
Other evidence that could be useful to your claim or lawsuit includes:
- W-2 wage statements
- Pay stubs or automatic deposit statements
- Tax returns
- Employment contract
- Employee manual or handbook
- Statements from witnesses to your accident
- Medical records
- Photos or video related to your accident and resulting injuries
- Statements or testimony from your doctor(s)
There is no cap on car accident damages in Virginia, so your insurance claim or lawsuit should demand compensation for all your damages, including lost PTO.
What If Your Time Off Was Unpaid?
If the company or business for which you work has 50 or more employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides you a maximum of 12 weeks’ unpaid leave for medical treatment and recovery. Since you will earn no wages or salary during your FMLA leave, you may include your lost income as part of your insurance claim or lawsuit.
What to Do After a Front Royal Car Accident
If you’re injured in a vehicle accident, your first priority is your safety and that of your passengers. There are steps, however, that you can take at the scene to protect your damage claim if you’re physically able to do so. After you’ve called 911 to report the crash, take photos of the accident scene and all vehicles involved, as well as damaged poles, dented guardrails, and other similar evidence of the wreck. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s), but do not discuss the accident or argue about it. Try to get contact information from any eyewitnesses, as well. Note the location of security or red-light cameras that might have footage of the crash.
When police arrive, answer their questions honestly but minimally. Don’t sign anything other than documents required by the officer making the report. Notify your own insurance company of the accident, but don’t speak to adjusters from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Seek medical attention right away, even if you don’t feel you’re seriously injured. Do not admit fault to anyone. Stay off social media and contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Refer all communications from the at-fault driver’s insurer to your attorney and let your lawyer do the talking.