Three quick fixes to collect lost wages after being injured in a car accident

I got this email from one of our Facebook followers:

I am trying to handle my car accident myself, but [my car insurance company] won’t accept my doctor’s note and pay my lost wages. How do you get the insurance company to do that?

When you are injured in a car accident and you can’t work as a result of your injuries, most of the time (at least in PA and DE) you look to your own insurance company to pay lost wages.  This type of insurance is Personal Injury Protection benefits or PIP.  When you make that lost-wage claim, you have to give the insurer a doctor’s note proving you could not go to work on doctor’s orders.

A lot of times, we find that the insurance companies refuse to pay lost wages because there is a problem with the doctor’s note. These are the three most common problems:

1. The no-work note doesn’t say the disability is due to an auto accident.

2. The no-work slip doesn’t specify a date range.

3. The no-work slip doesn’t say no-work. Instead it has tailored restrictions.

Here’s how to fix each of these problems:

If the doctor’s no-work slip doesn’t say the no-work order is due to a car accident, then you need to ask your doctor to include a sentence in your no-work slip to say that the reason you can’t work is due to the accident.  The doctor can just write “secondary to MVA” on the no-work slip and that should suffice. Remember: an automobile insurance company is not going to pay for lost wages caused by something other than the automobile accident. So make sure the note says automobile accident.

If the no-work slip doesn’t specify a date range, then you’re not making a claim for a closed period of disability, and the insurance company may take the position that it’s entitled to wait until you return to work and then pay you for your lost wages.  So you should ask your doctor to put a closed range of dates on the no work slip, such as “No work January 1 to January 15”.

If the no-work slip doesn’t actually say “no work”, you need additional documentation. We see doctors giving work restrictions instead of no-work orders. For example, a doctor may write a restriction such as “no bending or lifting” or “return to work sedentary duty only”.  If you get that, you need to get something from your employer stating that there is no such work available and submit that to the PIP insurer along with your doctor’s work restrictions slip.

Those are the three most common reasons why PIP insurance companies reject doctor’s no-work notes and refuse to pay lost wages after a car accident.  I hope this info helps you if you are having a problem getting your lost wages covered.  Of course, my next question is why in the world would you try to do this yourself?  When we accept representation in an automobile accident personal injury case, this is stuff we usually do for our clients for free.

Ben Schwartz

The information provided in this blog post and accompanying video is not legal advice. This information is provided for general education and entertainment purposes. Consult an attorney about the specific facts of your case before taking action.

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