Eckert & Associates, PA primarily represents trucking clients with property damage claims. We proceed against at-fault parties and their insurance companies for payment. In our experience, insurance companies treat lost wages from bodily injuries separately from lost income of equipment. Certain losses should be claimed on the personal injury side of a claim and certain losses should be claimed on the property damage side of a claim.
Two Types of Damages:
Simply, most insurance companies have two buckets of money to pull from under their insured’s liability policy:
1. The bodily injury bucket. This bucket includes anything to do with the injuries to a body (medical bills, pain and suffering, disability, lost income from the body not being able to go to work, loss of consortium, etc.)
2. The property damage bucket. This bucket includes anything to do with damages or losses to property (repairs to equipment, totaled equipment, diminished value, towing, hotel, rental vehicles, lost income of the property while down, and other out of pocket and consequential damages.)
The Property Damage Bucket – Lost Income:
Our office focuses on claims that are in the second list, the property damage bucket. If our clients have personal injuries, we recommend they speak with a personal injury attorney for that side of the claim. One of the largest areas of our practice is in representing clients on their lost income claims. There are many terms we use intermittently when our clients’ equipment is losing money due to the negligence of another party. These terms include: Downtime, Lost Income, Loss of Profit, Loss of Use, Business Interruption Loss, and others.
While many insurance adjusters like to downplay the ability of a claimant to collect loss of income of equipment, it is often because they don’t understand the difference between a claim for lost wages and lost income. Heavy equipment that is down for repair can create a very significant loss for the equipment owner. We assist these transportation companies in calculating and demanding all loss of income due to the negligence of the adverse party.
Pulling from Both Buckets:
Where confusion may arise is when a client has both:
1) Lost wages due to his body not being able to go to work.
2) Lost income due to his equipment being down during the repair process. This often happens with clients who both own and drive their truck (owner operators).
In many cases, the bodily injury’s lost wages claim takes longer to resolve than the property damage’s lost income claim. This is often because the lost wages are ongoing while the client’s body is healing. Frequently, the lost income claim of the downed equipment can be calculated and resolved much sooner. This gives the client funds to continue living while the personal injury case works through the normal legal channels.
Here is an Example of Lost Income and Wages:
Owner operator is hit and his truck is down for 3 weeks for repairs. Our office pursues the income that equipment lost during the 3 weeks of downtime. In some cases, owner operators are physically unable to work even after repairs are complete due to their injuries. This means he has wage loss claim. This would fall in the bodily injury bucket because the loss is due to his body being down.
We encourage our clients’ personal injury attorneys to stay in communication with our firm regarding any questions or concerns they may have regarding mutual clients’ property damages and downtime losses.