We have all heard the commercials, touting the benefits of short term disability insurance from the AFLAC duck to get money to pay bills if you get hurt and miss work. While this is something that is of benefit to some people, most people don’t have this type of insurance due to the high costs of premiums and other factors. In addition, like every other insurance policy, there are many restrictions and “loop holes” that these types of policies have on what they pay and don’t pay.
Why is it better to just retain a personal injury lawyer to seek lost wages?
If you are incapacitated to the point you cannot work and earn a living, your bills will start piling up, you will start getting calls from creditors, and you and your family will start to suffer a lot more emotional distress than even what the initial trauma of the accident caused. This is not something that you need to be dealing with in addition to trying to recover from your injuries from a physical standpoint. The good news is that it is something that you don’t have to deal with if you retain quality legal representation in the form of a competent accident attorney.
In California, the law provides that a person who is injured as a result of the negligence of another party is entitled to both past and future lost wages and future losses associated with a diminished earning capacity. Past lost income can include income, earnings, salary, wages and the fair market value of lost benefits such as vacation time, sick leave and, in the case of an outright termination due to inability to return, the value of both the lost income and the loss of any health insurance, retirement or other similar benefits until such time as the injured part is able to obtain employment at comparable pay and with similar allowances.
California law additionally provides for damages recovery for “lost earning capacity” which is defined as the “loss of the ability to earn money as a result of the injury.” In fact, there is case law in California that states that, “Damages may be awarded for lost earning capacity without any proof of actual loss of earnings.” Heiner v. KMart Corporation (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 335. In other words, if the accident causes you to lose the physical or congnitive ability to earn money over a person’s expected work life, there is an economic value that can be placed upon this and can be recovered by a quality injury lawyer who can argue that this is a separate and distinct damage suffered that is in addition to the actual present and future lost wages. This is usually done at a trial through the use of expert witnesses (usually and economist) who can attest to the average work life expectancy for an individual, the amount of pay expected to be earned if that person was completely healthy and able to fully function mentally and the dollar value of the difference between that healthy individual and the injured party.
So, while the AFLAC duck, might be able to give you a few bucks for some short period of time after a car accident or other traumatic event which puts you out of work, a good personal injury lawyer is the only person qualified to make sure you are truly compensated for every dollar that the law allows. This not only includes money for a lost paycheck or lost health or other insurance benefits but, also for any lifetime losses sustained due to the affliction. California personal injury law provides for much more than AFLAC or any other type of short term solution . So the next time you or someone you know or love gets incapacitated due to a traffic accident, motorcycle crash, trucking collision, pedestrian mishap or any other type of incident caused by another’s negligent acts, think about getting a lawyer instead of a duck!