06 May How to Recover Compensation for Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Claim
Sustaining injuries in the wake of an accident can be a tough experience. The medical expenses, physical limitations, and emotional distress make the recovery process a challenging one. It becomes even worse when you are unable to go to work due to those injuries.
Being unable to go to work means you most likely will not get paid, and this can cause undue financial hardship. Sometimes these injuries may be the result of the actions or inactions of another person. In such cases, you may be entitled to damages, including lost wages, from the person whose negligence caused your injuries.
Collecting the lost wages you are entitled to may not be a straightforward affair, however, and in many cases, this process may be downright complicated. You may be required to provide evidence that you should have collected the amounts you claim as wages during the period. Or you may need to bring on an expert that helps establish the income you would have earned during the time you were injured.
How do you go about establishing your personal injury claim and recovering the true value of wages you lost? Here, our Polk personal injury attorney explains what to do to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is one that a person initiates after suffering injury or damage as a result of the fault of another. It is the formal legal process of obtaining compensation from the party responsible for the injury.
Personal injury claims only apply to injuries caused to the body of a person. It does not apply to any damage done to the property. However, it does include wrongful death claims. Personal injury claims usually involve three major damages that resulted from the accident:
- Actual bodily harm
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Actual bodily harm is easy to understand and identify. It is any injury that interferes with the physical health or comfort of the victim. For actual bodily harm, the compensation can recover include medical bills and other anticipated medical expenses. This would include successive surgeries, physical therapy and other medical treatments that will help the injured person return to their normal life.
Pain and suffering is a more precarious issue. The victim is usually encouraged to cooperate with mental health professionals. These are the people who record the quantity or volume of the pain and suffering.
Emotional distress is one of the most complicated injuries to pursue. This is because there is no hard and fast definition of emotional distress. It simply includes the psychological effects of the injury on the victim’s daily life. Anxiety, insomnia, humiliation, and fear all fall within the category of emotional distress.
This type of harm is very subjective and varies from person to person. As such, you should make sure to record any psychological issues you might be experiencing after an accident.
For all the different types of damages, it is important to keep records as proof of your personal injury claim. It serves to ensure that you get all the compensation due to you.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
The purpose of pursuing a personal injury claim is to receive monetary compensation for the injuries suffered. This compensation is obtained from either an insurance company or the party responsible for the injury, depending on the circumstances. The legal parlance for this monetary compensation is “damages.”
The exact amount of damages that the victim would recover is decided by either the parties during negotiation or by a judge after the civil trial. The damages that a personal injury victim can obtain can be broadly divided into two types: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Punitive damages are essentially designed to punish the defendant for their conduct in causing injury to the plaintiff, especially where their conduct was very reckless or intentional.
Like the name implies, the essence of compensatory damages is to compensate the victim for the losses that the injury incurred. Compensatory damages are further broken down into two major groups: special compensatory damages and general compensatory damages.
General compensatory damages are designed to compensate for the non-monetary aftermaths of the injury. These include loss of consortium, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, to mention a few.
Special compensatory damages, on the other hand, are designed to compensate the victim for all monetary losses caused by the injury. The victim is entitled to reimbursement for income that was lost as a result of the injury.
What are Lost Wages?
Lost wages cover the amount of pay the victim actually lost as a result of the accident. It is the money lost because the victim had to take time off work to recover from the injuries sustained during the accident.
It includes hourly wages, bonuses, vacation days, tips, perks, and overtime. To calculate lost wages, simply multiply your daily wage by the number of days that you missed.
Lost wages should not be confused with lost earnings. Lost earnings look at the work that the victim might lose in the future. It may include lost opportunities, promotions, or the ability to keep working in the future.
How Do I Prove Lost Wages?
A personal injury victim can prove lost wages in several ways. Some may depend on expert evidence, such as a medical report, while others may only require the production of some documentation such as your payslip.
- Documentation from the employer: The best proof of lost wages is evidence from your employer. The employer can explain the amount of lost wages by providing documentation for validation. The documentation should include the following:
- Date hired
- Number of hours the victim works in a week
- The usual overtime hours
- A statement that the victim was employed at the time of the incident
- Pay rate
- Standard overtime pay
- Days or hours of work missed
- Bonus structure
- Lost perks
- Medical report: This is equally considered admissible evidence. In a claim for lost wages, the victim must present proof of the actual injury that was incurred as a result of the accident. Diagnosis by a medical practitioner should be carried out and a report issued. The medical report should reflect how long the plaintiff will be indisposed and how much work their injury prevents them from performing.
- Proof of payments: The claimant would need to show past payments of wages, the amount payable, wage verification from the employer, etc. Pay stubs from the most recent job and tax returns to show earning capacity should also be available. The insurance company involved would also want this documentation. If the claimant is self-employed, they can present tax returns, accounts receivable, business banking records, amongst others.
- Expert Testimony: This could be either oral or written but preferably the latter. The specific field of study and industry of practice must be highlighted. The expert testimony can validate the claimant’s path of progression in the specified career or field needs. A report on the economy at the time of the lost wages may affect the amount of damages payable. Expert reports on inflation and economic downturn will factor in the final decision.
Contact a Polk Personal Injury Attorney for Help
Proof of lost wages is often one of the areas that are contested when a personal injury case reaches trial. The defendant is aware of the need to battle the claim because a negative ruling will be costly in terms of damages and compensation.
At Sara Jones Law, P.A, our experienced Polk personal injury attorney has represented several claimants just like you within Polk County, Florida. We understand how these cases work and can provide the expertise that helps you reach a successful conclusion to your case. Contact our attorneys at (863) 455-4811 to get started today.