This article looks at options for recovering lost income if you are involved in a personal injury claim in Oregon or Washington. Many of the ideas we offer are common to both states, but the laws are different in each state, so in some cases, your approach may differ.
1. Get It In Writing
Regardless of whether you have disability coverage, or where you go to obtain lost income benefits, you are going to need documentation that you cannot work. At the very least, your treating physician will have to state in writing that you are unable to work, and for how long.
2. Auto Injury Disability Benefits
If you were injured in a auto collision in a car insured in the State of Oregon, then you are covered under the personal injury protection part of the auto policy. This is a no-fault medical and disability policy. Essentially, you can claim disability benefits if your physician takes you off work for a long enough period of time, and you were gainfully employed on the date you suffered your injury.
Washington auto insurance laws do not require personal injury protection benefits, but do require insurance companies to offer it as optional coverage. The available disability benefits vary.
3. Other Disability Policies
Auto insurance policies with disability benefits have limits, and your injury may be long-term. Also, not everybody with a personal injury claim was injured in a car collision in the first place. Here are a few other options to consider.
You may have purchased disability benefits with a creditor, like a credit card company or the company not finances your car. Sometimes, these insurance policies will pay a lump sum benefit, or will take over payment of the loan. These policies are restrictive, and usually have tight deadlines. If you are going to look at this kind of coverage, you need to contact the bank or credit card company as soon as possible to find out if you qualify for these benefits.
You may also have disability benefits through your employer. These are known as disability "plans." Each plan has its own definition of what it means to be "disabled." You should contact the benefits administrator at your job to see if you are covered under any short-term or long-term disability plan. Again, each plan is different. In any case, your physician will have to document your disability.
4. Workers' Compensation
If you are injured on the job, you may have a workers' compensation claim. Each state has its own workers' compensation system. In Oregon, you are generally entitled to a temporary total disability benefit that will cover two thirds of your "average weekly wage." Washington Labor and Industries claims have a similar benefit. In any claim, documentation is a must.
5. Social Security Disability
Finally, if you are looking at a permanent disability, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. There are two kinds of Social Security disability. One is known as Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, and the other is Supplemental Security Income, also referred to as SSI. Regardless of which benefit you apply for, you must show that you are disabled, which essentially means that you are not only unable to perform your prior work, but any other jobs that exist in the national economy. If you are over 50 years of age, there may be some jobs you can still do, but you would still be considered disabled. Also, your disability must have lasted, or be expected to last for twelve continuous months.
6. Call Us
If you have questions about how you can recover your lost income, contact us at 503-325-8600. We handle issues like this every day, and can explore all options with you. If we take on the case, there is no fee unless we make a recovery in your favor.