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Lost Pay Personal Injury Accident Injury Law
My doctor said I could go back to work two weeks after the accident, but I was still in pain, so I decided to stay home one more week. Will I be compensated for the additional week of lost pay? How do I substantiate my lost wages?
Compensation for the additional week of lost pay depends on whether or not you can prove that the additional week at home was reasonable and necessary. If your doctor verbally released you from his care, or signed a release allowing you to go back to work after two weeks, it is unlikely you will be able to collect for that additional week unless you are a champion negotiator (or your attorney is). If your doctor simply told you it was okay to go back to work as soon as you feel better, and he said that after two weeks, then you have a much better shot.
“Reasonable and necessary” is the standard. Suppose you had a mild to moderate whiplash from a rear end accident. After two weeks, there was nothing more the doctor could do, and he told you to go back to work when you feel up to it. You still felt a little stiff. You work at a computer all day, and you knew it would be uncomfortable. You decided to stay home one more week, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and then returned to work feeling fine that following week. Was it reasonable to take that additional week? Probably. Was it necessary? That’s debatable, but a close enough question to negotiate for that pay. What if, however, you took no medication, and played golf twice that week while you “recuperated”? Is it reasonable now? Probably not. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary, either, if you could swing a golf club.
How do you substantiate or verify your lost wages? Besides proof from the doctor and other testimony that you needed to take that time off, you will need a letter on your employer’s letterhead that indicates how much time was taken, and what your gross pay is for that period of time. Even if you used vacation or sick time, you are still entitled to your lost earning capacity for those few weeks and should be compensated.
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