“What if my auto-related injuries will prevent me from working for more than three years?”
The Michigan No-Fault Law says that your own car insurance is first in line to pay your wage loss if you are hurt in a crash. This is true no matter who caused the accident. If you didn’t have car insurance yourself, there is a path set out in the law that you follow to decide who is going to pay these benefits.
No matter whose policy covers your wage loss claim, there are time limits regarding the maximum time in which you can receive wage loss coverage. There is also a limit as to how much per month you can receive (see prior post here for more information).
We have cases where the injured person makes more than the monthly maximum that no-fault will pay, and whose injuries are so severe that it appears that the individual may never return to any job, or at least not to a job that pays as much as the one he or she had at the time of the crash. What can be done to seek compensation for those financial losses?
It is possible to sue the other driver for “excess economic loss.” This means financial losses above the monthly maximum (right now about $5400/month), beyond the three year benefit limit, or both. Whether the other driver is going to have enough coverage to pay that much is something a lawyer can help you figure out.
For the first three years after the accident, if you can prove 1) that you are disabled from work and 2) that you would be making more that the monthly maximum for as long as you are off work, your case against the other driver is relatively simple. Prove those two points and you win.
However, if your claim is that you are going to lose wages after the three year wage loss legal time limit expires, things get a little more complicated. You have to be able to prove that you will (not might) be disabled for more than three years, and that you will (not might) have earned a specific amount at that time if you had not been disabled by the accident.
The courts have consistently said that your excess wage loss claim is based on loss of income, not lost potential earnings. It’s the difference between what is going to happen, and what might happen.
If you are a higher-income earner who is injured in a motor vehicle accident in Michigan, don’t overlook your claim for excess wage loss reimbursement.
Source: 444 Mich 638