After suffering the pain of a personal injury accident, sometimes it's difficult to wrap your head around the fact that all around you, life has gone on. Medical bills are stacking up, routine expenses are rolling in, and every employee at your workplace has continued business as usual. That is, every employee other than you.
Sustaining injuries in a car crash, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident can cause you to miss a significant amount of time at work. This is why Florida law allows personal injury victims to recover the amount of money they would have made had they been able to work.
These types of personal injury damages are called lost wages, and they tend to be one of the more commonly misunderstood area of damages. For everything you need to know about lost wages, and how you can be compensated for them, continue reading.
What Are Lost Wages?
Lost wages equate to the amount of money your employer pays you for your work. This typically comes in the form of a company paycheck or a direct deposit into your bank account. These wages are paid by your employer weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. When you're unable to make it to work due to injury, your lost wages refers to the money you would have earned from your employer from the time of the accident to the date of settlement or judgment.
- Lost Earning Capacity: Any disability that results in a diminished capacity to work.
- Lost Compensation: Includes wages in addition to other financial benefits provided by an employer, such as bonuses and other perks of employment, that would have been earned had it not been for the accident.
What's Covered under Lost Wages?
Lost wages from a car accident or other personal injury can accumulate for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the injury.
- Hourly Wages: Found by totaling missed hours of work and multiplying by your hourly rate. For example, if an employee misses 20 days of work, generally works for 8 hours a day, and earns $20 an hour, their lost hourly wages are 20 x 8 x $20 = $3,200.
- Sick and Vacation Days: Employees often have to use their sick and/or vacation days to recover from their injuries. Had they not been injured, they would have able to use those days at anytime.
- Overtime: If an employee typically works overtime, they can include lost overtime in their claim. This includes seasonal workers who typically work overtime during a particular time of the year, such as at summer resorts.
- Tips: Employees who regularly report tips, such as those in the service industry, can include tips in a lost wages claim.
- Bonuses: If an injury causes you to miss out on bonuses, you can seek compensation for your lost money.
- Perks: Without work, an employee can lose out on company perks like gym memberships, use of a company-loaned vehicle, and even a cellphone.
The Effect of Lost Wages after Injury
Lost wages can add up quickly when a victim is sidelined from work. For example, after suffering a personal injury, an employee can take 5 sick days, and then use another 5 vacation days to recoup from their injuries. Once those run out, a victim typically presents their employer with a doctor's note documenting their physical injuries which allows them to take another stretch of time off of work.
However, during this time, everyday expenses, monthly bills, and other recurring charges will continue to flood in. When there's not a continuous stream of income to match it, bills can be left unpaid and debt can begin to accrue. When pursuing compensation, it's critical to keep all of the above in mind: the amount of income lost, as well as incoming expenses that were unable to be paid. To ballpark an estimate of the compensation you could be owed, input your damages into our personal injury calculator.
How Do You Claim Lost Wages?
When a person is injured due to another's negligence, he or she may be able to recover compensation, including income that was lost. Florida's personal injury liability laws allow a victim who was harmed by another's recklessness to seek compensation from an at-fault party's insurance company or directly from the at-fault party through a personal injury claim or through a lawsuit. In order to claim lost wages, documentation is key.
- Doctor's Notes: A doctor's note or disability slip will document actual physical injuries as well as the recommended time to take off from work.
- Pay Stubs or Other Wage Documents: The easiest and most common method of proving lost wages is to submit your most recent pay stub before the injury as evidence. If you're self-employed, you can submit your tax return from the previous year or any documents, including invoices or correspondence, to prove the amount of money that would have been earned during the period of recovery.
- Letter from Your Employer: A letter from an employer confirms critical details of the case, including the days you were absent, your pay level, the number of hours you work each pay period, the confirmation of any missed bonuses or perks, and so on. If you're self-employed, business records that show the amount of revenue earned as well as letters from clients that are no longer serviced can help illuminate and prove losses.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
While the idea of being compensated for your lost wages is comforting for the future, what about right now? Now is when you need a personal injury attorney. Your personal injury attorney will help gather all the necessary documents to present a proper lost wages claim, along with a claim for any other damages you've sustained due to your personal injury.
Have you been accumulating lost wages due to a personal injury accident? Are you unsure how you'll be paying your bills while you recover? Contact Weinstein Legal today. Our dedicated attorneys will fight tirelessly for your lost wages claim.