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Proving Lost Wages in a Car Accident Case

Lost wages can be an important part to getting fair compensation in a personal injury case, as medical bills and physical pain aren’t the only ways in which an auto accident can affect you. If you suffered serious injuries like broken bones or required an extended hospital stay, you will probably be taken off of work by your doctor. Even if you didn’t suffer broken bones, your condition still could render you unable to return to work for a period of time. If you miss work due to a car wreck caused by someone else, you are legally entitled to recover your lost wages.

In a car accident case, lost wages are typically recoverable in an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s carrier or your own carrier, if you are making an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim.

Types of Lost Wages

  • Past lost wages – this speaks for itself, as it refers to wages lost in the past. If you were hurt in a car accident, a doctor took you off work, and you did not get paid for that period of time, you can recover those wages in your personal injury claim. You can also recover for time missed from work to go to doctor’s appointments. After an accident, you should keep track of any and all doctor’s notes excusing you from work so that your lost wages are properly documented.

  • Future lost wages – future lost income can come into play if you suffer traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, severe disc injuries, or some form of paralysis, and a doctor states you are unable to work at all in the future, given your condition. If the claim involves wrongful death, heirs can recover for the decedent’s loss of future income based on his or her work history, earning history, job title, and experience. Proving future lost income may require testimony from an expert witness such as a vocational economist.

  • Diminished earning capacity – this form of lost wages refers to someone able to go back to work but not to the extent he or she was able to prior to the accident. For example, you may be able to return to work but only part time. Or, you may be forced to take a lesser paying position, given your limitations and restrictions. Expert witnesses can help quantify diminished earning capacity, which also encompasses future loss of earning power.

How to Prove Lost Wages

In a personal injury or auto accident claim, lost wages will not be recovered unless you can provide supporting documentation. Below are ways to prove your damages:

  • Company letterhead with your boss signing off on wages missed

  • Lost wage form filled out by Human Resources

  • Tax returns and bank statements (particularly helpful for self-employed individuals and independent contractors)

  • Letters from customers confirming the job could not be performed (another way to prove lost income if you are self-employed)

  • Evidence of past earnings such as pay stubs could be used to estimate the wages you likely would have earned had the wreck not occurred

  • Expert witnesses can be hired to prove future lost wages and diminished earning capacity. For more serious and permanent injuries, you should consult with an experienced car accident lawyer with the resources to identify qualified experts and retain them on your behalf. For example, if your injuries are permanent, you will need a doctor to be able to testify to that. Vocational economists can calculate the amount of your wage loss and present it to the judge or jury on your behalf

Call Gibbs & Parnell Today for a Free Consultation

At Gibbs & Parnell, our car accident attorneys look to all forms of damages to which our clients may be legally entitled under the law. We understand the legal burden of proof that must be met in order to help injured clients recover for lost wages, and we have the resources to consult with qualified experts when necessary. To discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer, call us today.

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