I am often asked by my clients if they can recover for vacation time or sick time that they have to use because of injuries from a motor vehicle accident or other type of personal injury claim. Are these compensable and recoverable–even if the person was paid while out of work but had to tap into sick leave?
The answer is usually “yes”. Virginia’s courts have long held that having to utilize vacation or sick time because of the recovery from a personal injury is still recoverable damage in a personal injury case. This evidence will need to be documented by letter, affidavit, or ultimately testimony from someone connected with the workplace. Your personal injury attorney will need to go over these things with you in order to provide appropriate evidence to prove the value of the loss based on regular salary.
I recently had a client who was enrolled in nursing school and had already withdrawn once because of having a baby. She was later back in nursing school, but was hurt in a trucking accident, after which her doctor told her that she could not do the lifting associated with registered nurse training at the school. She was forced to take a second withdrawal from the school, and the school policy dictated that she would have to restart the entire program which basically meant she had lost an entire year towards her entry into the workplace as a registered nurse. I explained to her that my analysis of Virginia law was that she would be entitled to claim this delay of entry into the field as a direct personal injury wage loss claim which attorneys sometimes call a delayed entry into a particular field.
I have handled many cases of the years where a significant permanent personal injury reduces a client’s capacity to even work at heavy or medium labor types of jobs. The injury may require the injury client to only do seated work or light duty work on a permanent basis. Often, to prove the loss, which is called “lost earning capacity”, we must have our client evaluated by a licensed vocational counselor. A vocational counselor has the expertise and experience to analyze the education, physical abilities and impairments, and render an expert opinion on loss of earning capacity even if the loss is conceptual and not yet based on actual lost earnings. Please contact our law firm for further information at hsinjurylaw.com .