What Is a Lost Wages Claim?
After an accident, a victim may sustain injuries so severe that they cannot return to work to earn a living. Recovering from the incident may involve substantial medical bills. The injured party may struggle to pay without a steady income. To regain financial balance, the person may make a lost wages claim to recover money lost because of missing work due to car accident injuries or other issues.
Personal injury victims should hire a legal professional to understand how such claims work and how to get the most favorable chance of winning their case. As with most areas of law, claims for lost wages have unique intricacies that require a lawyer’s insight and experience.
What Does a Lost Wages Claim Cover?
Just as there are several categories of wages, lost wages claims cover several types of wages:
To calculate your lost hourly wages, take the sum of work you missed and multiply it by your hourly pay. For example, say that you miss 14 days of work because of your injury. Multiply the hours that you normally work every day by your hourly wage by 14. If you miss 14 days of work, earn $20 an hour and work 10 hours a day, your total lost wages are $2,800.
Tips fall under the category of lost wages, but only if you normally report them to the IRS. To claim tips as lost wages, either provide proof that you normally claim your tips on your taxes or provide bank statements showing that you normally deposit your tips.
Do you usually work overtime? If so, include overtime hours on your lost wages claim. Workers who commonly qualify include seasonal workers employed in an industry that often requires overtime work hours during certain seasons. This includes, retail workers during the holidays and resort workers during the summer and winter seasons. Collect old pay stubs to show how much overtime you usually put in.
You cannot qualify for work perks if you cannot work. If your employer provides you with a company car, laptop, health center or phone, add the value of such perks to your claim.
Depending on when you sustained your injury, you may miss out on receiving a work bonus. You can also claim this loss. To show your loss, collect evidence of past bonuses or ask your employer to show how you and other employees earn bonuses. This is also the time to gather proof of other extra compensation that you expect to miss out on because of your injury.
Vacation and Sick Days
You may have no choice but to use vacation or sick days to protect your financial health while recovering. You can claim this as lost wages by showing evidence of the value of your lost days off.
How Do You Submit a Lost Wages Claim?
With a lost wages claim, you can submit your losses to your insurance provider or the at-fault party’s provider or sue the other party. If you file an insurance claim, determine what scenarios a specific policy covers so you have a better idea of what damages to expect. For example, no-fault states have personal injury protection coverage. No matter the responsible party, injury victims seek lost wages compensation through their own insurance provider first. In at-fault states, the responsible party’s liability bodily injury coverage may cover the amount of your lost wages, at least up to the policy’s limits.
Say that the other person either does not have insurance or does not have adequate coverage for your total claim. In either case, if you have uninsured/underinsured coverage as part of your policy, you can tap into it to take care of your lost wages up to your policy’s current limits.
No matter which insurance coverage you use to make a claim, expect to complete an independent medical examination where a doctor chosen by the insurance company evaluates the extent of your injuries to help determine your total claim amount. To improve your chances of claim acceptance, gather adequate medical documentation that shows the extent and severity and cost of your injuries. Do not forget about supplementary costs such as medication, physical therapy and assistive devices like wheelchairs and crutches.
Also, you must sign an employment authorization form. This allows your employer to share details about your employment with the insurance provider.
How Do You Prove Lost Wages?
You must demonstrate your lost wages to win a claim. Gather recent wage documents that show how much you regularly make. It’s alright if you cannot submit common wage documents such as a pay stub. Instead, use your tax returns, invoices, client correspondence or W-2 forms from last year. A signed letter from your employer can show the number of days you missed from work, your regular wage or salary, and your regular hours. You must also show that you physically could not work because of your injury. Have your physician write a note with your recommended recovery period to heal from your injuries.
Are Lost Wages the Same As Lost Earning Capacity?
“Lost wages” and “lost earning capacity” are not interchangeable terms. Lost wages are those you could not earn because of an injury. On the other hand, lost earning potential is the work that you may lose out on in the weeks, months and years ahead.
For instance, you may miss out on new positions and promotions while recovering from your injuries. Or, the severity of your injuries may keep you from working in the same industry or position again. Talk to a forensic accountant experienced in legal cases to determine the extent of your lost earning potential. The effort required to build a solid lost earning potential case often proves taxing. However, the right professional help and proof can boost your chances of success.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Have your accident injuries prevented you from working as you once did? Protect your legal rights and financial health with help from a local lost wages lawyer. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!