If you suffered injuries in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or other personal injury accident due to the negligence of a business or individual, you may be off work for months or longer recovering from your injuries. It can be financially devastating to lose your paycheck that you rely on to pay your monthly expenses and bills. Fortunately, you may be entitled to make a claim for your lost wages when filing a personal injury claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. When you do so, you need to be certain to claim ALL of the compensation that you are owed.
Who Is Eligible to File a Claim for Lost Wages Following a Personal Injury Accident?
If you are not employed at a full-time job, you may believe that you cannot claim lost earnings as part of your claim for compensation. However, this is not the case. You may be entitled to lost income if you fit into any of the following categories:
- Salaried full-time employee
- Full-time employee paid on an hourly basis
- Part-time employee—either salaried or paid hourly
- Contract worker
- Occasional or seasonal worker
What Types of Lost Income Compensation Should You Ask for in Your Personal Injury Settlement If You Are an Employee?
If you only consider the paychecks that you did not receive as the lost wages you are entitled to, you may be losing thousands of dollars that you deserve in settlement. Your lost income claim is much more complicated than that. Here are some losses that are included in these claims:
- Past and future wages. You should receive the wages that you have lost to date and any future wages you will lose until you are able to return to work—if you are not permanently disabled. In order to determine your future wages, it is important to know how reliable your past income has been. This will be a major factor in being able to establish future wages. Additionally, you will want to have as clear of a prognosis as possible as to how much future time you will miss from work to accurately evaluate future wages.
- Lost vacation and sick time. When you are off work recovering, you may need to use your sick days and vacation time. Your employer may require you to take all of your accrued time off before placing you on unpaid leave. While this may compensate you for your lost wages for a period of time, in the long-term this will mean that you have less sick and vacation time to use in the future when you need it. If you are in this situation, you should request any sick and vacation time you have had to use in your lost wages claim.
- Bonuses and commissions. If you lost, or will lose, any bonuses or commissions from your job while you are off work, you want to include these amounts as part of your claim. As with future wages, you will need to be able to show how likely it was that you would have earned a certain bonus, or how much you would have made in commissions for that particular time period.
- Other perks. Do you drive a company vehicle or go on vacation paid for by your company on a regular basis? If you lose these additional perks of your job, you can ask for the value of these benefits in your settlement.
- Lost earning capacity. If your injuries are severe enough, you may no longer be able to perform your former work duties or you may become permanently disabled. In this situation, you may be entitled to your lost earning capacity. This is the long-term future lost wages, promotions, and other benefits of your job that you will lose due to your accident. You will need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney and experts who can explain the nature and severity of the injury into the future as well as show your employment trajectory over the period of time you believe your earning capacity has been affected to calculate these damages.
How Do You Claim Lost Income If You Are Self-Employed?
It can be more complicated to determine your lost income if you are self-employed than if you work for an employer and receive a paycheck. You will need to provide copies of past years’ income tax returns to show your income in the past. It is often best to provide multiple years of tax returns.
In some cases, a self-employed person’s income tax returns will not show an accurate amount of income earned. For example, your business may be generating more income for you than in prior years. You may need to obtain copies of your contracts with clients or future clients or letters from them to prove that your lost income claim is larger than your tax returns show.
Retaining an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Is Essential to Ensuring That You Receive the Lost Wages That You Deserve
If you are pursuing a claim for compensation due to another party’s negligence, you need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to calculate the value of your lost wages—as well as the rest of your claim—and to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. He will also be able to help you retain a qualified expert if you have a claim for future wages or lost earning capacity. Call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about how our dedicated personal injury attorneys can assist you.