The Michigan no-fault law provides for the payment of lost wages for individuals who lose time from work due to car accident injuries. Under one part of the statute – MCL 500.3107(1)(b) – a person who is employed at the time of the car accident is entitled to receive loss of income from work an injured person would have performed if he or she had not been injured.
That person is entitled to receive 85% of their gross wages from the car insurance company for up to 3 years from the date of the accident.
But what if you were not employed at the time of the car accident. What if you were unemployed, but able to work and looking for a job when a car accident suddenly prevented your from obtaining work. What happens then?
You are still protected. Under a different part of the Michigan no-fault law, specifically MCL 500.3107a, an injured person who is “temporarily unemployed” at the time of the accident may also obtain wage loss benefits. As the statute says:
Subject to the provisions of section 3107(1)(b), work loss for an injured person who is temporarily unemployed at the time of the accident or during the period of disability shall be based on earned income for the last month employed full time preceding the accident.
This means even if you did not have a job at the time of the car accident, you may obtain wage loss benefits as if you were employed at the time of the accident.
However, to get these benefits you must demonstrate a few things. First, you must show you were able to work. Typically, this entails demonstrating you were applying for jobs when the accident occurred. Although an official job offer is not required, insurance companies will often want copies of applications or other evidence to show the claimant was actively seeking employment when the accident occurred, thereby preventing the claimant from taking a job.
Second, the claimant must have had a full-time job at some point before the accident. As the statute states, earned income is based on the last month the injured person was working full time. Strangely, under the law it doesn’t matter if the last full time job was 5 years ago. So long as the claimant had a full-time job prior to the car accident, the claimant can make a claim for wage loss even if temporarily unemployed.
In addition, the wage rate from that full-time job will be utilized to compute the wage loss benefit.
Third, the claimant must be “temporarily” unemployed. Although there are no hard and fast rules about how long a person can be unemployed but still able to obtain wage loss benefits, the longer the period of unemployment, the more difficult it will be. For example, if a person had not worked in 3 years, and has not made any discernible effort to get a job and then the car accident occurs, that person will not be able to obtain wage loss benefits under MCL 500.3107a.
In addition, a work loss slip from a doctor disabling the claimant from work is also usually required by the insurance company to pay the work loss benefit.
Last, it is important to understand that claimant must show the car accident caused an actual loss of income. In other words, but for the accident, the claimant would have performed work and earned income somewhere. Therefore, if a person quit a job before a car accident, and was not looking for new work, that person will probably not be entitled to wage loss benefits.
Just because you were not working at the time of the car accident does not mean you are not entitled to work loss benefits. The Michigan car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. (Call Lee Free) have been helping injury victims obtain wage benefits for over 40 years.
If you were unemployed at the time of the car accident, it is worth contacting our experienced and hard-working team of Michigan trial lawyers. There is no fee unless we get you compensated.
Please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).