If an accident victim has accrued vacation, sick, or personal leave that he or she can utilize following an accident to avoid paycheck interruption, this is a separate source of collection in the personal injury case. Under North Carolina evidence law, the collateral source rule prohibits introduction of trial evidence that reveals that the victim was able to collect for losses from an outside source. This rule applies to sick or vacation pay. Thus, even if you are paid during your period of medically ordered disability, you can still collect for those lost wages from the responsible driver and his or her insurance carriers. While some disagree with the propriety of this double recovery, it truly is the just result. If you use all of your vacation leave due to an accident, the responsible driver certainly should restore those wages so you can enjoy vacation time later and draw pay from your settlement proceeds.
Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Policies
Short-term disability (“STD”) and long-term disability (“LTD”) policies provide income benefits if you miss work for medical reasons. These policies can be purchased by private individuals or provided by an employer. In some cases, the STD/LTD insurance company has a right to be paid back for income benefits paid if the collision was not your fault and you are able to collect lost wages from the at-fault driver. In some cases, the income that you received through STD/LTD is not taxable.
Aflac and Other Accident-Triggered Policies
Aflac and similar insurance policies provide cash benefits for specified types of diagnosed injuries and medical conditions. These policies do not have a right to reimbursement and make no claims against your personal injury case proceeds. To trigger this coverage, you typically only need medical records confirming a diagnosed illness or condition that fits the list of covered events on the policy. In most cases, you then receive a single lump-sum payment in the amount specified in your policy.
Crime Victims Compensation Fund
This statutory remedy creates a $30,000.00 account available to pay victims of criminal misconduct who are not paid fully through other sources. While a typical auto accident arising from a simple traffic violation will not be sufficient “criminal” conduct to trigger coverage, DWI is specifically listed as sufficient criminal conduct to allow payment. Accidents caused during auto theft or another criminal enterprise would also be covered.
This fund is a safeguard available only to victims who are not paid through other sources. Thus, the fund is considered a “payer of last resort.” To apply and collect, you must show that you are an innocent victim of criminal conduct, that you have exhausted all liability insurance and other payment options, and that these other payment sources were not sufficient to pay your medical bills and other expenses arising from the accident. For example, if you have $75,000.00 in medical bills but the at-fault, impaired driver only has $30,000.00 in available liability coverage, settlement would not pay the full amount of your bills. Application to the crime victims’ compensation fund would allow you to collect up to $30,000.00, which would be paid directly to your unpaid medical providers.
For the complete text of the statute with all rules and guidelines, see the North Carolina Crime Victim’s Compensation Act at N.C.G.S. Chapter 15B.