A serious auto accident can put you out of commission for months, or even years. When your recovery takes time, you need to know your bills will be paid for. Luckily, in Michigan, if you can't work after a car crash, you have options to receive benefits and payments to cover everything from rent to remodeling.
If you can't work after a car crash, the first place you should turn is to your no-fault auto insurance provider. The Michigan No-Fault Act requires insurance providers to cover up to three years of lost wages after an accident. The benefit paid will generally be based on 85% of your gross income, up to a statutory maximum of $5,700 per 30-day period (for 2018-2019).
This only applies to actual wage loss, meaning you had a job you could not go to because of your injuries. It doesn't consider the loss of earning potential (meaning you could have gotten a job if you hadn't been injured). However, if you were temporarily unemployed and actively looking for work at the time of the accident you may still be able to receive lost wage benefits. If you were self-employed and no longer able to do your work, you will also be entitled to benefits, but you and your personal injury attorney will have to demonstrate how much you could have earned while you were unable to work.
Sometimes, the car crash that puts you out of work was part of your job. If you are injured while driving a vehicle for work, you may also be entitled to benefits under your employer's workers' compensation insurance. This insurance covers up to 80% of wage loss (up to a statutory maximum) for time off work due to work-related injuries.
The rules for no-fault insurance and workers' compensation are different. Workers compensation does not cover the first 7 days off work unless your disability lasts more than two weeks. It also allows for benefits if you are permanently disabled, and does not limit you to three years of lost wages. This may allow you to receive benefits from both insurance policies to cover different periods when you can't work after a car crash.
However, the plans may well be coordinated. That means filing a claim with one could reduce the benefits paid under the other. Be sure to discuss all these options with your personal injury attorney before filing either claim for insurance benefits.
The most serious motor vehicle accidents can take far longer than 3 years to recover. When another driver's poor choices leave you permanently disabled, you may be able to file a third party lawsuit against the driver for damages. This is in addition to the three years covered by the No-Fault Act.
Third party damages are only available in cases of death, disfigurement, or significant impairment of an important bodily function. However, in most cases, if you are medically unable to work for more than three years that will satisfy the threshold requirement and allow you to move forward your lawsuit.
Disability isn't an all-or-nothing thing. Sometimes your injuries will prevent you from doing what you have always done, but not from getting a different kind of job. For example, if a car crash damaged your knee it may be impossible for you to work in a stock room lifting boxes, but you may be able to get a job sitting at a desk. If you suffered a brain injury you may no longer be able to work as an accountant, but you could take a job as a retail clerk.
Taking a job doesn't automatically end your claim to lost income benefits or damages. If your new position pays less than what you did before the car crash, you may be entitled to recover the difference.
When you can't work after a car crash, it can put your home and your livelihood in danger. But you do have options to recover your lost wages from your no-fault auto insurance and the at-fault driver if you qualify. Those benefits can give you the peace of mind to know that your living expenses will be paid even while you can't work.
At Sachs Waldman, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help you explore your options after an auto accident. If you can't work because of your injuries, we will help you file claims with your employer's insurance, your no-fault provider, and against the at-fault driver to make sure your damages are covered. If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.