Experts estimate that work-related injuries across the U.S. cost $47.4 billion in lost wages in 2021. Seeing how workplace accidents are just a fraction of all types of accidents that cause severe injuries, you can easily see how vital compensation for lost wages is.
Personal injuries can lead to physical, emotional, and financial suffering. The financial impact is often significant, with one of the most significant consequences being the loss of wages.
When you’re injured in a personal injury accident, recovering compensation for lost wages is essential to help you recover financially. Here’s a detailed guide on how to go about it.
Jones Law Group attorneys have the skill and experience to help you recover your lost wages and other damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and more. Schedule a free consultation by calling (727) 571-1333 or contacting us online.
Understanding Lost Wages
Lost wages refer to the income you would have earned but couldn’t because of your injury. You can lose money from work in various ways, including the following:
- Missing work days: If your injury forces you to take time off work to recover.
- Reduced work hours: When your injury limits your ability to work as many hours as before.
- Job loss: In severe cases, you might lose your job entirely due to being hurt.
It’s crucial to distinguish between lost wages, which represent your actual earnings, and lost earning capacity, which signifies the potential future income you might have earned if not for the injury. An experienced attorney can help you obtain both.
What Documentation is Required for Recovering Lost Wages?
You’ll need meticulous documentation to recover lost wages successfully. You must collect and maintain the following documents, if possible:
- Medical records: These documents will detail the medical treatment you need and should also clearly link your injury to your inability to work.
- Pay stubs, employment contracts, and salary details: These documents substantiate your pre-injury income, making it easier to calculate your losses.
- Written statements from employers: These statements confirm your absence from work due to the injury and detail how it has impacted your job.
- Proof of missed opportunities: If your injury caused you to miss out on bonuses, promotions, or overtime, gather any available evidence that will help prove those losses.
Calculating Lost Wages
Calculating lost wages is relatively straightforward. You can use the following basic formula:
(Lost hours or days of work) x (Hourly wage or daily rate) = Lost wages
It’s essential to differentiate between temporary lost wages resulting from a short-term inability to work and permanent lost wages stemming from a long-term or permanent inability to work. In complex cases, experts may be required to accurately assess future lost earning capacity. A lawyer can bring in a financial expert to do precisely that.
Insurance Companies and Lost Wages
Insurance companies play a significant role in determining compensation for lost wages. They evaluate claims by considering factors like medical evidence, income records, and the severity of your injury. When dealing with insurance adjusters, follow these tips:
- Be well-prepared: Have all your documentation in order.
- Maintain a clear record: Keep a log of all communication and agreements.
- Consult a lawyer: Before accepting any settlement offer, it’s wise to speak with a lawyer specializing in personal injury cases. They can help ensure you receive fair compensation.
Filing a Lawsuit to Receive Compensation for Lost Wages
In cases where the insurance settlement falls short of adequately compensating you for your lost wages, pursuing a lawsuit may become necessary. The lawsuit process is a comprehensive legal journey that can be challenging to navigate without proper guidance. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the steps involved:
Filing a Complaint
Filing a complaint is the first formal step in a lawsuit. It involves submitting a legal document to the court outlining your claims against the responsible party. In this document, you’ll detail the circumstances of your injury, its impact on your life and finances, and your demand for compensation. The complaint officially launches the lawsuit and notifies the defendant (the party you’re suing) of your legal action.
In the discovery phase, both sides gather evidence to support their respective cases. This can include documents, witness statements, depositions, and expert testimony. You and your attorney will work to build a strong case by collecting evidence that proves liability (who’s at fault) and the extent of your damages, including lost wages.
Discovery can be time-consuming, but it’s critical to ensure your case has a solid foundation.
Before going to trial, there’s often a negotiation period between the victim’s attorney and the defendant’s legal team. During negotiations, both parties may try to reach a settlement agreement. This can help avoid the time and cost of going to trial.
Your attorney will advocate for a fair settlement that covers your lost wages and other damages. Neither side wants to go to trial, so there’s an excellent chance your case won’t have to go to court.
But if negotiations fail to produce a fair settlement, the case may proceed to trial. A trial involves presenting your case before a judge or jury. Your attorney will argue your position, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. The court will ultimately make a judgment, either awarding or denying you compensation for your lost wages.
Navigating a lawsuit for lost wages is complex, and having legal representation is crucial. Attorneys have a deep understanding of personal injury laws, court procedures, and the strategies needed to build a strong case. Your attorney will also serve as your advocate, fighting to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.
In addition, experienced attorneys are skilled negotiators who can help you reach a fair settlement without needing a trial. Lawsuits can be legally intricate and overwhelming. Attorneys have the experience to handle the complexities of the legal system effectively.
Other Sources of Compensation for Lost Wages
In addition to pursuing a lawsuit, there are other potential sources of compensation for lost wages:
- Disability insurance claims: If you have disability insurance, it may cover a portion of your lost wages during your recovery period. Consult your policy and work with your insurance provider to access these benefits.
- Workers’ compensation: If you suffered an injury at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits typically cover medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. As of this writing, employees had filed 8,677 workers’ comp claims in Florida in 2023, with insurers paying more than $400 million to settle 3,046 of those claims.
- Third-party lawsuits: You might also qualify to pursue a third-party lawsuit. For example, suppose a defective piece of equipment causes a workplace accident resulting in an injury. The victim could seek additional compensation from the manufacturer.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
If you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll have a better chance of maximizing your chances of receiving fair compensation for lost wages.
- Waiting too long to file a claim or lawsuit: There are specific time limits, known as statutes of limitations, for taking legal action. You must meet these deadlines to ensure your right to compensation is maintained. The statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is two years.
- Failing to keep thorough documentation: Detailed records – including medical records, pay stubs, employment contracts, and communication with insurance companies – are crucial evidence to support your claims.
- Accepting the first offer from insurance companies without consulting a lawyer: Initial settlement offers may not fully cover your losses. Consulting with an attorney can help you assess the fairness of the offer and negotiate for a better outcome.
Contact Jones Law Group to Receive Compensation for Lost Wages and Other Damages After a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you need assistance to recover lost wages and other damages following a personal injury accident, consider contacting the Jones Law Group. Our attorneys have the expertise and experience to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please use our online form or call (727) 571-1333 for a free case review.