When someone is injured in an auto accident and cannot perform their job duties because of these injuries, they could be eligible to receive compensation in the form of lost wages. With inflation and the cost of living forcing many people to live paycheck to paycheck, the inability to work even for a short time can inflict severe financial stress on most families.

Getting compensation for lost wages requires the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. Although the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay for property damages and medical bills, they will likely resist paying lost wages. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed by financial burdens before you attempt to seek lost wages. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you cannot work due to injuries caused by a reckless driver.

What is the Legal Definition of Lost Wages?

Income that a person would have earned if they had not been injured in an auto accident is called lost wages. In some cases, lost wages can also refer to a reduction in earning capacity if the person is able to work only a few hours per day or week due to the injury. For example, Janice was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a broken leg and ankle. After recovering for several months, she was able to return to work but could only work three days a week. Janice spent the other two days receiving rehabilitation therapy and going to post-op check-ups. The total of those days missed is counted as part of her lost wages compensation package.

Lost Wages and Future Earnings Capacity

When injuries sustained in an auto accident impact future earning capacity, crash victims also have the right to seek compensation for potential lost wages. Let’s say Janice suffered neurological damage that impaired her ability to type quickly on a keyboard. Several doctors told Janice that this damage would likely progress enough to render her unable to type at all within a year. Janice’s employer told her they would find another job for her to do when this happened but that her hourly wage would then decrease. This would be an example of a loss of future earnings capacity.

Your Rights as an Auto Accident Victim

As a victim of an at-fault driver, you have the right to seek compensation for lost wages if your injuries prevent you from working. A personal injury attorney protects your rights to compensation by:

  • Filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover lost wages and possibly additional compensation
  • Gathering medical documentation to support the claim for lost wages, such as x-rays, emergency room reports, diagnostic reports, treatment methods, and long-term prognostic reports
  • Acquiring expert testimony from specialists and surgeons who can provide detailed information about the effects of your physical injuries on your future earning potential

Insurance Coverage for Lost Wages

When a driver is at fault for an accident, they may receive compensation for lost wages depending on the type of auto insurance policy they have. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payment Coverage can help pay for medical bills, including extended hospitalization and rehabilitation costs. PIP or MedPay may also cover lost wages.

At-fault drivers with bodily liability coverage insurance should be able to provide compensation to injured parties for medical expenses and lost wages. When at-fault drivers do not have auto insurance or insurance that is insufficient to cover claims from injured parties, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may extend compensation for lost wages and medical expenses. However, drivers who sustain injuries due to the negligence of another driver must carry this type of insurance for themselves to receive compensation.

Calculating Lost Wages

Insurance companies, judges, and personal injury attorneys utilize the following items to calculate the total amount of lost wages:

  • Pay stubs
  • Federal and state tax returns
  • Employer verification letters
  • Determining the period of lost wages with documentation of time off from work
  • Calculating the gross income of the injured party (includes overtime pay and bonuses)
  • Considering the additional benefits the injured party would have earned if not for the accident
  • Factoring in future losses of income when injuries are progressive or untreatable

Take Action Now to Get the Compensation for Lost Wages You Deserve

If you have sustained injuries in an auto accident and cannot perform work duties, don’t let medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress overwhelm you. Take the first step toward relieving financial burdens by calling (800) 300-0001 and speaking to the experienced personal injury attorneys of The Ledger Law Firm.