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Can I Claim Lost Wages from Car Accident Injuries?

Date Posted:

March 28, 2024

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    The period following a car accident is full of challenges, not least of which is the financial strain of lost wages. Victims often find themselves unable to work while their regular bills continue to pile up. It’s a difficult situation that leads many to wonder, “Can I claim lost wages from car accident injuries?”

    The answer to that question is yes. In this blog, we detail what accident benefits are, how income replacement benefits work, what the process for claiming them is, and how working with a lawyer can take the pressure out of the process.

    How Accident Benefits Work

    Accident benefits, which are governed under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, are a component of Ontario’s automobile insurance system that is designed to provide financial support to individuals injured in car accidents. These benefits offer victims compensation for various losses, including medical and rehabilitation expenses, care costs, lost income due to injuries sustained in the accident.

    The primary aim is to alleviate the financial burden on auto accident victims, allowing them to focus on recovering from a serious injury without the added stress of lost wages. By covering a portion of the income that victims are unable to earn due to their injuries, accident victims are able to focus on recovering without nearly as much financial pressure.  However, the basic amount of coverage that comes with your auto insurance policy is limited to a maximum of $400 per week unless enhanced benefits are purchased.  

    Eligibility for Income Replacement Benefits

    In Ontario, eligibility for income replacement benefits hinges on specific criteria designed to ensure that only those genuinely impacted by their injuries in a car accident receive compensation. To qualify, individuals must have been employed at the time of the accident or have a recent work history that demonstrates active employment within the year preceding the accident. This includes self-employed individuals, those receiving Employment Insurance, or those who have been actively seeking work.

    The severity of the injuries sustained in the accident also plays a role in determining if you are eligible to recover lost wages. The injuries must significantly impair your ability to perform the tasks of your usual employment. It’s not just about being injured; it’s about the injury leading to a tangible impact on your capacity to earn an income as you did before the accident.

    Proving this inability to work is pivotal. Documentation from healthcare providers, detailing the nature of your physical or emotional impairment and its impact on your employment capabilities, is essential. This may include medical reports, treatment plans, and expert assessments that collectively demonstrate how the injuries prevent you from returning to your pre-accident employment duties.

    Coverage of Lost Wages by Accident Benefits

    In Ontario, income replacement benefits cover up to 70% of your gross income. However, it’s important to note there’s a cap on these benefits, with the maximum amount set at $400 per week. This ceiling is meant to balance the need for support with the system’s long-term sustainability. While this compensation does not fully match your regular income, it is a big help when you’re juggling your daily expenses and medical bills while trying to recover.

    Calculating Lost Wages and Accident Benefits

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    A formula that considers your previous earnings is used to calculate lost wages for benefits. The calculation typically uses 70% of your gross weekly income as a basis, adjusted within the limits of the policy’s maximum weekly benefit cap.

    An important piece of the calculation process is the collection of documentation like your previous pay stubs, employment contracts, and tax returns, which serve as evidence of your earnings prior to the accident.

    This documentation substantiates your lost income claims and ensures that the calculated benefits accurately reflect the financial impact of your inability to work. Having them in order therefore makes for a smoother claim process.

    Steps to Claim Income Replacement Benefits

    To receive income replacement benefits following a car accident in Ontario, you must follow a sequence of procedural steps. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    Initial Notification

    The process begins with promptly notifying your insurance company of the accident and your intent to file for benefits. This initial communication should occur as soon as possible, ideally within seven days of the accident, to meet the requirements set forth by most insurance policies.

    Form Completion

    The next step is to gather and complete the necessary forms, including the OCF-2 form (Employer’s Confirmation) and OCF-3 (Disability Certificate) ,  These documents are vital for substantiating your claim, detailing your employment status before the accident, and the impact of your injuries on your ability to work as you pursue compensation.

    Submitting Your Application Package and Being Responsive

    The timely submission of your application package, which includes the completed forms along with any supporting medical documentation, cannot be overstated. A delay in submitting these documents can result in the denial of benefits.

    Also, throughout the evaluation process, your insurance company may request additional information to assess your claim. Cooperative and responsive interaction with your insurer during this phase increases your chances at a successful claim process.

    The Role of Personal Injury Lawyers in Claiming Lost Wages

    A car accident or personal injury lawyer can guide you through the often complex process of claiming lost wages. Their experience is an asset when it comes to navigating the intricacies of insurance policies, ensuring that all procedural requirements are met and that your rights are protected throughout. A car accident lawyer can dissect the dense legal jargon of insurance documents, ensuring that clients fully understand their entitlements and obligations.

    One key area where personal injury lawyers excel is in maximizing the compensation for lost wages. In cases where initial claims are unfairly denied, these legal professionals can prepare and lodge appeals that challenge the insurer’s decision.

    What’s more, personal injury lawyers are instrumental in pursuing additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit when statutory accident benefits fall short of covering all lost income and related damages. They can negotiate settlements or represent you in court, aiming to secure a fair resolution that covers not just immediate lost wages but also future income losses and other associated costs. Such comprehensive legal support puts you to recover physically, emotionally and financially after a motor vehicle accident.

    McNally Gervan – Helping You Get Back on Your Feet

    Claiming lost wages through car accident claims in Ontario is a structured process designed to support victims in their recovery journey. That doesn’t mean, however, that the process is not without its challenges and pitfalls – especially when you’re recovering from a difficult accident. It’s for these reasons seeking the support of a personal injury lawyer is important.

    At McNally Gervan, we have years of experience helping clients with all types of personal injury and insurance matters. Whether it’s a car accident claim, a life insurance claim, or any other, we have the knowledge and resources to be the difference. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you secure the benefits and compensation you are entitled to.