Lost Wages After a Car Accident

March 27, 2020

The aftermath of a car accident can be an incredibly confusing and complex time for victims. While most people think about medical bills and property damage as expenses after an accident, many car accident victims also have to be worried about lost income. In many cases, a car accident victim’s injuries are severe enough to keep them from working while they recover. Here, we want to discuss lost wages, how to prove they have occurred, and how to recover them after a car crash.

What are Lost Wages?

The term “lost wages” refers to any amount of money you would have earned through your work but were unable to due to the severity of the injuries you sustained in the car accident. There are various ways to look at lost wages.

Lost Compensation

This generally refers to any wages you lose while you are recovering from your injuries. This can include your regular income as well as other financial benefits (bonuses, paid time off that is not being accrued, and other perks of employment).

Lost Earning Capacity

This is different than lost compensation and deals with how any disability you sustain due to the car accident injuries affects your ability to work. In many cases, the car accident victim sustains a diminished capacity to work after they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This could lower the amount of money they are able to earn because they may have to change jobs.

How to Recover Lost Wages

There are various ways that a car accident victim can recover lost wages. This could include making a request to the other driver’s insurance company as part of your claim or filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

It is important to wait until you are near the end of your medical treatment before calculating and submitting a claim for lost wages. This way, you have a fairly complete understanding of how much money you lost and whether or not you have a diminished work capacity due to your injuries.

How to Prove Lost Wages

There are various ways to prove lost wages. This can include gathering the following and submitting them as evidence do an insurance carrier or in a trial:

  • Doctor’s note. In order to take time off from work, you will have had to sustain actual physical injuries. Your doctor will have to sign off on this and recommend how much time you will need off due to your injuries.
  • Paystubs or other wage documents. One of the easiest ways to prove lost wages is to submit recent paystubs. You can also gather your most recent W-2(s) or your latest tax return. If you are self-employed, you can submit your tax return or any document (invoices or correspondence) that shows a pattern of receiving money for the most recent period before your injury.
  • Letter from your employer. A car accident victim can also submit a letter from their employer that contains the days you were absent, how much money they make, and the number of hours they work each pay period.

How a Lawyer Can Help Your Case

A skilled car accident lawyer will be an invaluable resource when it comes to recovering lost wages after an accident. In these cases, you will hopefully have already been working with an attorney to recover medical bills and help with property damage. Your attorney will also work to gather the evidence necessary to prove you have suffered lost income. An injury attorney will understand every document that you need to recover and will be able to skillfully show an insurance carrier or a jury how the incident has affected your wages.


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