In 2015, car crashes in the United States accounted for more than $178 Billion in lost income and wages! This is according to the National Safety Council publication “Injury Facts 2017.” When we add in all other types of unintentional injuries across the US, that number jumps to $458 Billion.
Frequently, when clients are injured they will lose time from work. Sometimes it is just the day of the collision, other times it is for days, weeks and even months. This lost time puts a household under great financial stress. Some employees are fortunate enough to have paid sick time, or perhaps vacation time that an employer will allow employees to use to continue their income while they recover from an injury that was not his or her fault.
This is a great benefit, however, it seems really unjust that the person who did nothing wrong should have to pay for this time off work, when the loss was due to the negligence of a inattentive driver or careless business owner. After all, you need that paid leave for things like sick children, your own illnesses or – in the case of vacation time – for that one week a year when you get to leave work, unplug, and give your bodies and minds a rest and be around family.
You are entitled to be reimbursed for the vacation time or paid time-off you had to use during your recovery. This is true, even if you are paid your full wage during the time off, by your employer, through Paid Time Off (PTO), Paid Benefit Hours (PBH) or any other compensation benefit. This also includes time off for which you received short-term disability, long-term disability, workers’ compensation pay, and private disability insurance benefits, such as AFLAC.
When my clients have used sick leave, or vacation time after an injury, I work hard to recover that lost paid leave. At the time of your settlement, I negotiate hard for reimbursement of this benefit to you. When you recover from the driver or business that caused your injury, you and I will know what your lost paid benefits are and those lost benefits are included in your settlement proposal and the negotiations with the insurance company.
How does it work? Do I get to “reinstate” my lost sick time or vacation time with my employer?
Very few employers have a buy-back program that allows employees to repay the lost time or to “reinstate” it, by paying the benefits back. However, if we have claimed these lost benefits in our settlement discussions, when you settle you have been reimbursed these benefits. I encourage my clients to set aside that reimbursement. Then, if necessary, he or she can tap into it when the flu knocks her out of work, he has to stay home with a sick child, or it’s time for the family vacation.
If you have questions about what losses can be recovered when someone’s negligence causes an injury, please feel free to contact my office. I’m happy to take the time to answer your questions and to provide you with the information you need to understand your rights and to know if you even need a lawyer in the first place.