Lost Wages Claims

Lost Wages Claims

When you get into a car accident and are injured, it’s likely that you may need to miss some work for recovery and doctor’s appointments. If you are an hourly employee, or a salaried employee without reserved paid time off and you miss work, you won’t get paid. So what happens if the reason you’re missing work is that you were involved in a car accident? Is there anything you can do to recover those lost wages?

What does lost wages mean?

Lost wages is the amount of income you lost from missing work as the result of an injury from a car accident. This is the money you would have earned at your job had you not been in an accident and unable to attend work, and includes time missed due to recovery from injury and medical appointments related to your car accident.

How to Calculate Lost Wages

It’s usually pretty simple to calculate your lost wages. Calculating lost wages is done differently, depending on if you’re paid hourly or are paid a salary.

  • If you’re paid hourly, you can calculate your lost wages by multiplying your hourly pay rate by the number of hours of work you missed. For example, if you’re paid $10 per hour, and you missed 50 hours of work, your total lost wages would be $500.
  • If you’re paid a salary, you first need to calculate your hourly rate. Your hourly rate is your salary divided by 2,080, which is the total number of work hours in a year. For example, if you make $40,000 per year, your hourly rate is $19.23. Once you have your hourly rate, you can multiply it by the number of hours of work you missed, factoring in that salaried employees typically account for work time in full days (8 hours total), vs. individual hours as with hourly employees. So, if you missed 4 days of work (32 hours total), multiply that 32 hours by your hourly rate of $19.23, your total lost wages would be $615.36.

Evidence Needed to Prove Lost Wages

There are a few things you’ll need to provide as proof of lost wages when you file a claim for lost wages, including:

  • Doctor’s note: Your doctor’s note should contain information about your injuries that show that you are unable to work, and the recommended amount of time you should not work in order to recover. This may be in the form of a disability slip that you can submit to your employer and your insurance company.
  • Paystub or other proof of income: The easiest way to prove your income for lost wages is to submit your most recent pay stubs prior to your accident. If you don’t have standard paystubs or are self-employed, there are other documents to help prove your income, such as last year’s tax statements, invoices, or even communications with clients.
  • Letter from your employer: This letter will need to detail at minimum the work you missed, how much you’re paid, and how many hours you usually work in a pay period.

How to Claim Lost Wages From a Car Accident

There are several ways you can claim lost wages. How to go about it will depend on the extent of your damages. Below is an overview of a couple of different ways you could file this claim.

1. Personal Injury Protection Claim

If the damage from your car accident totaled $10,000 or less, you can file a claim with your own insurance company through Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

Florida law requires that all car insurance policies provide 60% of lost wages in PIP to the following people:

  • The named insured
  • Relatives residing in the same household
  • Persons operating the insured motor vehicle
  • Passengers in the motor vehicle
  • Other persons struck by the motor vehicle
  • This type of coverage is available regardless of who was at fault for the accident. To receive these benefits, you must file a claim with your insurance company within 14 days of the accident.

If you wait any longer than that, you’ll be denied.

If your lost wages are more than $10,000 and the other party was at fault, you’ll have to file a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company.

2. File a Lawsuit

Litigation isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s sometimes necessary. Since Personal Injury Protection has a limit on how much money you can claim, you can still file a lawsuit for uncovered damages that are a direct result of the car accident.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing this type of claim is four years from the date of the accident. That being said, keep in mind that you have to be able to substantiate all of your claims, and gathering evidence takes time. In addition, the longer you wait to file, the easier it’ll be for the Defendant (the person being sued) to try to claim that your damages were caused by something outside of the accident.

What if You’re Unable to Work Due to a Disability After a Car Accident?

If the accident was particularly egregious and you sustained injuries that resulted in partial or full disability, you can file a claim for a loss of earning capacity. Granted, this only applies if the disability results in you having to either stop working completely or to have to change your job to a lesser paying position, to accommodate your injuries.

When doing so, the Court will take into account the following factors:

  • The severity of the injury
  • Your age
  • Your education level
  • Your work history
  • The job you had at the time of the accident
  • Any potential job you would’ve been likely to obtain had the accident not occurred
  • Your ability to compete in the labor market
  • You’ll need to provide a preponderance of evidence showing that the accident will indeed cause you to earn less money throughout your lifetime. This might include tax returns, pay stubs, the income of similarly situated people within your industry, medical records, and possibly expert testimony.

What About Lost Wages From a Car Accident if You’re Self-Employed?

In the same way an employee has to provide documents proving lost monies, you can do the same by presenting past tax returns, 1099 forms, invoices, and any additional documents. These particular forms reflect an accurate depiction of how much money you make while working on your own.

If the income varies greatly, you may have to bring in a financial expert to inspect your documents and work history to estimate lost profits.

If you’ve been self-employed for a while and have a steady stream of income, you’ll have an easier time proving your claim than someone who just started their business.

That said, you can still find ways to estimate lost compensation. For example, if you’ve been working in your industry for several years, you can show how much you used to make as an employee, comparable to how much people in the same business with the same experience are making.

In the same way, if you had any potential clients at that time, they could provide written communications of their intent to hire you prior to the accident. You can also bring in an expert to testify as to how much a person with your education and experience would be able to continue making in your specific geographical location.

How a Lawyer Can Help Recover Lost Wages

Although we’ve covered the basics, making a claim for lost wages can be difficult and involve more complex issues, such as if you are owed more than the $10,000 that your PIP pays and want to file a lawsuit. A lawyer can advise you and properly prepare and submit your lost wages claim and supporting documentation to help you get the lost wages compensation you deserve.

Call Clark Hartpence Law if You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay

There are many factors that influence the outcome of a car accident claim. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Hartpence Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients who were involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we can help you determine the best next step.