Lost Wages After a Car Accident

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: March 17, 2017

Lost Wages After a Car Accident- How to Make a Successful Wage Loss Claim After An Accident

After you have been in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you have missed time from work, what do you need to know?

First, lost wages refer to the income that you are not able to earn because of your injury.  This lost income can include:

  • Lost wages for the period that you are not able to work;
  • Lost earning capacity if you have a long-term disability from the accident and are not able to make as much money as you did before the accident.
  • Lost opportunity, such as missing out on a contract extension or having to turn down a job offer because you are recovering from your injuries and cannot work.

Documenting lost wages:

In order to make a successful wage loss claim you must be able to provide the insurance company with documentation that supports the fact that you are not able to work because of your injuries.  The insurance company will not simply take your word for it.  You will have to provide proof.  This proof will need to include the following:

  • A letter from your doctor or medical records that document your inability to work due to your injuries. This documentation should describe your injuries and should include the dates that you are unable to work because of those injuries.  A copy of a dated letter from your doctor to your employer stating that you are unable to work for a specific period of time due to your injuries is a good form of documentation that can be sent to the insurance company.  Your medical records should also be provided to the insurance company because those records will provide proof of your injuries, treatment, and medications needed, which will support your wage loss claim.
  • A letter from your employer that verifies that you missed work due to your injuries and that shows the dates that you missed work coincide with the dates in the doctor’s letter.
  • If you are self-employed, paid on commission, or are an independent contractor you will need to provide tax returns or additional documentation that proves that your income did in-fact decrease due to your injuries.

Calculating lost wages:

Let’s start with the easy situation when you have a full-time job and you are an hourly or salaried employee.  If this is the case, to calculate your lost wages you simply take the number of hours that you missed from work and multiply them by your hourly pay rate.  You can also argue for additional monies if you missed out on a promotion or other opportunity, but this is harder to justify.

When you are paid on commission or have a non-salaried job with irregular work hours calculating your wage loss is more difficult, but is possible.

First, you will want to show what you missed because you were not able to work.  For example, a decrease in the number of sales you made during this time frame verses the prior months, or a decrease in billing invoices.  If your overall wages decrease during the year that you were injured you can provide prior tax returns as evidence of what you would have earned.

You are also entitled to your lost wages even if you used your vacation or sick leave to cover those hours.  The reason is because you now do not have that paid time off to use in the future.

What if you are never able to return to work?

If you are disabled because of your injuries lots of work needs to go into proving this and also proving the long-term value of your wage loss claim.  There are a number of variables that need to be considered in determining your overall financial loss and this generally requires experts like a vocational rehabilitation specialist, life-care planner, and an economist who will analyze and calculate data in order to determine your lost wages, the cost of retraining, the cost of future medical needs, etc.

If you find yourself in this situation you should seek out the advice and help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Zanes Law has both Tucson and Phoenix personal injury lawyers and car accident lawyers who have represented thousands of clients over the past fourteen years.  Zanes Law has offices in both Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.  So if you have been injured in any way, please call us and we will do our best to help you just like we helped our many clients who have left us 5-Star Google reviews.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
Get in Touch
Free Case Evaluation
Please don't hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

    Skip to content