Can Unemployment Hurt My Car Accident Case?

can unemployment hurt my car accident case

There are over 6 million car accidents in the United States every year with 41% of these car accidents resulting in non-fatality injuries.

Even in low-impact car crashes, many people find themselves so severely injured that they must take time off of work. Unfortunately, this can leave them in a difficult situation depending on their job. 

For a variety of reasons, many people return to work too early. Their premature return could be due to the medical bills quickly adding up, general financial responsibilities, or because they’re afraid to lose their job due to their absence. The unfortunate reality is that some people’s injuries after a car accident prevent them from returning to work and they are let go. 

How Receiving Unemployment Benefits May Affect a Car Accident Claim

In personal injury and car accident cases where there are serious injuries limiting the person’s ability to work, lost wages generally make up a sizable portion of the damages. This includes the person’s past wages and their potential future earning capacity. 

However, if you’re receiving unemployment benefits at the time of the car accident, the value of your case may be reduced because you won’t be able to argue that your injury caused immediate wage loss. 

If your injuries affected your future earning capacity, this will be taken into consideration when a settlement is being negotiated. Examples of car accident injuries that would affect your ability to find future employment would be:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury (115)
  • Back injury (106)
  • Disc injury (100)
  • Neck injury
  • Loss of sight or visual impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Organ damage

Likewise, your occupation and ability to continue in that field of work would also be taken into consideration with the type of injury sustained. 

In situations where you were actively seeking employment but were not employed at the time of the accident, you’ll need to show how your injuries limited your ability to find work. The top car accident lawyers will hire expert witnesses such as doctors and economists to support this argument. 

By factoring in your work history, experience, education, and the current labor market, these experts will testify about the extent of your injuries, how your injuries affected you physically and mentally, and how they will affect your future.  

Another crucial factor in unemployment cases will be the length of time you’ve been out of work. If you have only been out of work for a short time due to factors beyond your control, then it will be easier to connect the injury and loss of job prospects. However, if it’s been longer than six months, the defense lawyer will try to argue that there are other more influential factors than the injury keeping you unemployed. 

Those Who Are Not in the Labor Force

If you’re neither receiving unemployment benefits nor actively looking for work, you will be considered “not in the labor force.” “Not in the labor force” precludes any damages for lost work or prospective work. Your damages will be limited to medical bills, pain and suffering, and possibly other damages. 

Loss of Household Damages for Stay-at-Home Parents and Caregivers 

If you are a stay-at-home parent who is injured in a car accident, you can receive damages for lost wages based on the economic value of whatever household services they provide. This would include things like:

  • Care for young children
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping
  • Transportation for the children
  • Cleaning
  • General household duties
  • Paying bills
  • Managing family finances
  • Having to hire a housekeeper

Additionally, if your spouse has to cut back on hours to help with these duties, this reduced community income would be taken into consideration. Likewise, if you’re a full-time caretaker for an elderly or disabled family member or spouse, similar considerations would apply. 

Self-Employed Individual Concerns

Things can be a little tricky for those who are self-employed and injured in a car accident. Usually, your lost wages will be based on your previous earnings. However, if you’ve just started a new company or career, you’ll need to provide evidence to show lost earnings or how your future earnings capacity has been affected. This can be shown through invoices, contracts, bank statements, or even correspondence with third parties. Expert witnesses may be able to help in these situations as well. 

San Diego Car Accident Lawyer

My name is Dan Hanecak and I am a San Diego personal injury lawyer specializing in car accidents. My team and I understand that car crashes can have a serious financial burden on you and your loved ones. When another person’s negligence causes injuries, don’t be afraid to seek justice!

Insurance companies are happy to see people try to tough it out on their own without a personal injury attorney. When you are unrepresented, insurance companies believe they can pay you less and move you along quickly. Don’t be fooled—it’s not your burden to bear! We always say to take care of your health and your family first.

We are not your typical personal injury law office, from your first call you’ll speak directly with me on the phone. Call me today for free and friendly advice at (858) 812-2096 and we can start planning your free strategy. Or if you’d like, we have a form online and I can call you back personally at a time more convenient for you. 

 Photo by Anna Shvets.