8 Mar

How Are Lost Wages Calculated In A Personal Injury Case?

Personal Injury

lost wages

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligent actions, you are legally entitled to seek monetary compensation from the liable party’s (or parties’) insurance company (or in some cases, from the party themselves).

This compensation can be divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are expenses resulting from your injuries that can be calculated and given a set numerical value, while non-economic damages are “intangible”, unquantifiable costs such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment. Recovering economic damages is generally a more straightforward process than attempting to prove and recover non-economic, although insurance companies are usually known to fight to devalue injury claims for both categories as much as possible in order to protect their best interests. One of the types of economic damages that is often sought in a personal injury settlement is lost wages.

It is important to know how lost wages are calculated in a personal injury settlement in order to be your own best advocate and be discerning when you are considering attorneys to represent you – if you do the calculations, and feel like an attorney is either way overestimating the damages or way underestimating them, you need to ask them about it to clarify why their estimate doesn’t match yours. If you have already chosen an attorney, knowing how lost wages are calculated can only help you feel like you have a better understanding of what you stand to gain as your case proceeds.

What’s Considered “Lost Wages”?

Lost wages refers to the money you would have earned at work had you not been injured in the accident.

If you are injured unexpectedly due to someone else’s negligence, you are probably not going to be able to return to work for the next few days. If your injuries are moderately severe, you may have to miss several days or weeks. If your injuries are extremely severe, you may not be able to return to work for months.

The right to seek lost wages in a settlement applies to any type of work compensation. If you are a full-time employee, part-time employee, have regular or occasional employment, make an hourly wage or weekly wage or monthly salary, you can still fight to be totally reimbursed for the money that you would have earned.

Lost wages also include the following:

  • overtime pay, if you regularly work overtime during the time of the year when the accident occurred.
  • the value of sick days & vacation days, if you used them to recover from your injuries
  • company perks
  • bonuses
  • tips

In order to prove lost wages, you will need proof from your employer in the form of documentation. You can also use pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns. What documents you will need depends on the specific circumstances of your case, what you’re claiming, and other factors. It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine what the most solid evidence will be for your claim; they can advise you and even collect documentation on your behalf.

What If I’m Self-Employed?

If you are self-employed, you are still entitled to lost wages like other workers, but proving your income may be a more difficult process. You may have to provide income tax returns, business records, or other statements (including estimated quarterly tax pay-ins) that provide an estimate of how much you would have or could have earned had you not been injured.

How Lost Wages Are Different Than Lost Earning Potential

It is important to make the distinction between lost wages and lost earning potential…they sound similar, but are in fact two different types of economic damages entirely. While lost wages is the amount that you would have earned if you had not been injured in the accident, lost earning potential is the amount that you may have earned in the future if it hadn’t been for the injuries you received in the accident.

These damages can be recovered if you are able to prove that your ability to earn money in the future has been damaged or negated entirely by your injuries – for example, if you are a surgeon and an accident leaves you with an injury that leads to the amputation of one hand, and you are no longer able to perform surgery, you can seek hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for the surgeries that you would have performed during the remaining course of your career if the accident had not cut that short.

How Lost Wages Are Typically Calculated

If you make an hourly wage, you can take the amount you make per hour and multiply it by the number of hours you missed because of the accident and your injuries, and that number will be your lost wages (factoring in tips, overtime pay, bonuses, and sick days if applicable). For example, if you make $15 an hour and you had to take a week (7 days = 8 hours per day = 56 hours) off of work due to a concussion sustained in a car accident, you multiply $15 x 56 and get $840 as your total lost wages.

If you are a salaried employee, you can take your yearly salary and divide it by 2080 (the number of weekday work hours in a year), and then multiply it by the number of hours you missed due to your injuries. For example, if you make $40,000 a year, and you had to take a week off of work due to a concussion sustained in a car accident, you would divide $40,000/2080 to get $19.23, and then multiply 8 hours by 7 days to get 56 hours, and then multiply $19.23 by 56 to arrive at your total lost wages (not including tips, overtime pay, bonuses, sick days, and vacation days if applicable), which would be $1,076.88.

Want To Learn More About Recovering Lost Wages?

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and want to learn more about recovering both non-economic and economic damages, including lost wages, call our experienced, aggressive personal injury lawyers at The Florida Law Group to schedule a free consultation and understand your legal options! We always fight for justice for our clients in the form of fair, full financial compensation for everything someone else’s negligence stole from you. Our attorneys proudly offer all of our legal services on a contingency fee basis and are ranked by national prestigious legal groups as the top 1% of law firms in the nation. Call now!