Lost Wage Claims in a Personal Injury Case
One of the many adverse outcomes of a personal injury accident is missing time from work while you are on the mend. If you have to take weeks or months off of work because of a debilitating injury, you and your family must deal with significant lost wages and earnings. If you qualify for financial compensation from one or more parties for causing your injury, your award can include an amount to reimburse you for these lost wages.
What Can You Include in a Lost Wage Claim?
Lost wages are classified as economic damages – a financial award granted to an injured accident victim who has experienced financial hardship due to the negligence of another person. Lost wages is a broader category of damages than most plaintiffs realize. It can encompass many different types of losses, including:
- Actual days/hours you missed from work
- Any vacation or sick days you used
- How much you would have earned had you been able to work
- Wages, tips, commissions and bonuses
- Any raises or promotions you missed
- Employment benefits, such as stocks or insurance
- Employer contributions to retirement funds
- Future lost wages due to a long-term disability
- A lifetime of lost earnings in a wrongful death case
You should be eligible for financial compensation from one or more defendants for the total value of what you lost because of the accident and your related injuries. A successful personal injury case should make you whole again, or restore you to the position that you would have been in had the accident not occurred.
How to Calculate Your Lost Wages
Before you file a personal injury case in Alabama, determine the value of your lost wages. It is important to have an idea of how much your lost wages are worth before you enter into settlement negotiations with an insurance company. An insurer may try to take advantage of you and devalue your economic losses. Take the time to calculate your lost wages and earnings before accepting a settlement.
First, use your pay stubs or financial statements from at least three months prior to your accident to determine your average daily wage. Multiply this by the number of days that you had to miss work because of your injury. Then, add any bonuses, special payments or employment benefits that you would have received had you not been injured with a degree of certainty. This should give you an idea of what your lost wages are worth if you have already recovered from your injury and can return to work.
If you suffered a temporary or permanent disability, your calculations are more complicated. If you can return to work but only in a diminished capacity, subtract what you make now from what you used to make, then multiply this by the number of days that you are working for the reduced amount. If you cannot work at all because of a permanent disability, you will need assistance from an expert to help you calculate a lifetime of lost earnings, adjusted for inflation. It is important to work with an expert if you have a complicated or high-value case so that you do not underestimate the value of your lost wages.
How to Prove Your Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case
As a plaintiff, you must support your lost wage claim with evidence. You will need to show proof of what you were earning prior to the accident, as well as what you earn now in comparison. Evidence of lost wages can include:
- Pay stubs
- A letter from your employer
- Details of your duties at work
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Client invoices
- Work contracts
- Testimony from a forensic economist
You may also need to provide medical evidence to prove the extent and degree of your injuries. A Birmingham personal injury attorney can help you prove lost wages and negotiate for maximum financial compensation. To learn more about how we can help you seek compensation for lost wages, contact us to request a free initial consultation.