Experts estimate that people hurt away from their jobs lost 540 million work days in 2021. That translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages. When someone’s negligence causes a severe injury, the victim shouldn’t bear that financial burden.
Types of Personal Injury Cases that May Result in Lost Wages
Nearly any kind of accident can lead to a debilitating personal injury. These are some of the accidents that happen most often.
- Car accidents: Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of personal injuries that can lead to lost wages. If you’re injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the time you miss from work while recovering.
- Slip and fall incidents: Slip and fall accidents on poorly maintained property can also result in injuries that prevent you from working. You can hold the property owner responsible for your lost wages if their negligence led to your injury.
- Medical malpractice: Medical errors or negligence by healthcare providers can lead to debilitating injuries. If such an incident leaves you unable to work, you may seek compensation for the wages you lose during your recovery.
- Workplace accidents: You could suffer an injury on the job due to negligence. Workers’ compensation insurance typically covers this situation if that’s the case. If a third party contributed to your injury, you could file a lawsuit for further compensation.
- Product liability cases: If a defective product causes injury and prevents you from working, you may have a product liability case. You can seek compensation for lost wages from the manufacturer or distributor of the faulty product.
Understanding Lost Wages
Lost wages are the earnings you would have received if you hadn’t suffered the injury. It’s the money you could have earned but didn’t because of your injury.
On the other hand, lost earning capacity refers to the potential income you may never earn in the future due to your injury’s lasting effects. When seeking compensation, distinguishing between these two is essential because they may require different calculation methods and evidence.
Who Can Recover Lost Wages in Florida?
To recover lost wages in Florida, you must establish a direct link between your injury and your inability to work. This means demonstrating that your injury caused you to miss work and incur financial losses.
You must also prove that someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions were responsible for your injury. The negligent party could be a reckless driver, a negligent property owner, a medical professional, or another party.
Documenting Lost Wages
Thorough documentation is critical in the process of recovering lost wages. To support your claim, you should maintain records such as:
- Employment history: Records of your job positions, promotions, and employment dates.
- Pay stubs: Detailed records of your earnings, including deductions and bonuses.
- Timesheets: Documentation of your work hours and overtime, if applicable.
- Medical records: Reports and records from healthcare providers confirming your injury and its impact on your ability to work.
These documents help establish the connection between your injury and your inability to work, making it easier to calculate your losses accurately.
Calculating Lost Wages
Determining the precise amount of lost wages is critical in seeking compensation after a personal injury accident. The method for calculating lost wages depends on your employment status. The following examines how experts calculate lost wages for salaried, hourly, and self-employed employees.
For Salaried Employees
Salaried employees receive a fixed income regularly, typically weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Calculating lost wages for salaried employees is relatively straightforward. Follow these steps:
- Determine your regular salary: Find your pre-tax salary for the period you couldn’t work due to the injury. This information is usually available on your pay stubs or employment contract.
- Calculate the exact number of days or weeks you were unable to work: This will depend on the duration of your recovery or absence from work directly related to your injury. Severe injuries, of course, require a longer recovery. For example, you’ll likely recover from a broken arm in about eight weeks. If you have a severe back injury, recovery could take 9-12 months or longer.
- Calculate lost wages: Multiply the number of days or weeks you couldn’t work by your daily or weekly salary. This will give you the amount of income you lost during that period.
For Hourly Employees
Calculating lost wages for hourly employees involves tracking your hours and hourly wage rates. Here’s how to do it accurately:
- Record your work hours: Keep detailed records of the hours you typically work, including regular and overtime hours.
- Determine your hourly wage rate: This can usually be found on your pay stubs or employment contract.
- Calculate missed hours: Determine the number of hours you couldn’t work due to the injury.
- Calculate lost wages: Multiply the missed hours by your hourly wage rate to determine how much income you lost.
For Self-Employed Individuals
Calculating lost wages for self-employed individuals can be more complex, as they don’t have fixed salaries or hourly wage rates. It involves a comprehensive review of financial records and may require expert testimony. Here’s a breakdown of the process:
- Review past income tax returns: Examine your previous income tax returns, business profit and loss statements, and financial records. These documents can provide insights into your average income before the injury.
- Analyze business records: Look at your business’s financial records, including invoices, receipts, and client contracts. These records can help establish your pre-injury income.
- Estimate the impact of the injury: Consider how the injury affected your ability to work and earn income. This may involve assessing the number of clients or projects you had to turn down or delay due to the injury.
- Consult with financial experts: To determine a precise figure for lost wages, your attorney might consult financial experts, such as forensic accountants or economists. They can help estimate the earnings you lost due to the injury and provide expert testimony to support your claim.
Projecting Future Lost Wages
In cases where your injury results in long-term or permanent disability, projecting future lost wages becomes crucial. This projection often requires the expertise of financial and vocational experts who can estimate your future earnings potential had the accident not occurred. They’ll consider factors such as your age, occupation, and injury severity to make these projections.
How to Claim Lost Wages
There are several avenues for claiming lost wages, including the following:
- Insurance claims: You can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This is typically the first step in seeking compensation for lost wages after an accident.
- Personal injury lawsuit: About 95% of personal injury cases are resolved through a settlement. But if that doesn’t happen in your case, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your lost wages.
- Third-party claims: In some cases, a responsible third party, such as a product manufacturer or property owner, may also be liable for your lost wages. Your attorney will assess all possible avenues for compensation.
Work with Eberst Law to Recover Your Lost Wages and More
Recovering lost wages after a personal injury accident in Florida can be complex and challenging. Eberst Law specializes in personal injury cases and can help you recover the compensation you deserve, including lost wages and other damages.