Compensation for Lost Wages After an Accident

lost wagesMany people involved in an accident are forced to miss time from work. Whether you were at fault or not, the reality is that these incidents and the resulting injuries often force you out of the office or cause you to miss out on opportunities. 

It’s not always straightforward how these type of damages are calculated. But the good news is that with the help of a personal injury lawyer, you may be able to recover your lost wages. 

Wage Loss Following an Accident

If you are injured in a car accident and your injuries require that you miss time from your job, the lost income that results from missing work can lead to financial problems for you and your family. Thankfully, wage loss is a recoverable damage in a personal injury claim.

Policyholders with a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy are protected for lost wages after an accident, regardless of who was at fault in causing the car accident. In Washington state, all auto insurance policies must include PIP unless the consumer chooses to opt out of the coverage by signing a waiver form.

Unfortunately, most insurance policies only cover wage loss beginning two weeks after the accident or injury occurred. In order to receive compensation for wage loss, you must provide the insurance company with documented evidence that proves your injuries were severe enough to cause you to miss work. 

Additionally, you must provide documented records of the time you missed and the total wage loss that occurred as a result.

In addition to PIP coverage, the bodily injury liability coverage of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy can cover wage loss for the injured victim. In this case, the victim would file a wage loss claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

What’s Covered Under Lost Wages Claims?

The following items may be covered under a lost wages claim:

  • Hourly wages: The most straightforward wage, you can calculate your lost wages claim by adding up your missed work and multiplying by your hourly rate.
  • Overtime: If you regularly work overtime, or are a seasonal worker where certain times are busier, you can include overtime on your claim.
  • Bonuses: If you missed out on bonuses due to your accident injuries, you can claim these. 
  • Sick days/PTO days: Unfortunately some people are forced to take sick days, PTO days or vacation days to recover from their injuries. You can ask for those days to be compensated.
  • Perks: Missing work might mean missing out on perks (company cell phone, gym membership, etc.).
  • Tips: If you have a history of reporting and documenting tips at your job, those records can be used in your lost wages claim.

Self-Employed? Here’s What to Know

If you were self-employed at the time of your accident or injury, proving your lost income may be tricky. Just like someone that works at an hourly rate, if you’re self-employed you can show the income you lost. 

You must be able to show the insurance company business records to prove what your income might have been. In some cases, an accountant is brought in to help explain your calculations and lay out the extent of your wage loss.

This might not be easy, and many variables come into play. Consulting with a personal injury attorney may be a smart decision. 

Timeframe for a Lost Wages Claim

The amount of time it takes to receive lost wages after an accident can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. That timeframe is extended if an attorney is retained or if your injuries force you to miss a long time from work. 

Every accident victim can submit an insurance claim immediately after the collision, but this is a bad idea. It’s best to receive medical treatment and understand the full extent of the injuries before asking for compensation for lost wages. 

Basically, you must actually suffer a loss before you can ask to be compensated for damages. 

The insurance adjusters need time to investigate your claim. It may seem like it’s taking a long time, but the insurance companies are in no rush to pay you. Their goal is to keep as much money in their pockets as possible. 

Then there’s variables on your side of the issue. If your doctor recommends you get additional treatment that will force you to miss work, you and your attorney will have to amend your claim. 

Each case is different, and the laws regarding lost wages vary state to state.

Working with an Attorney Helps

The best way to make sure that you can prove all of the damages in your injury case, including lost wages, is to retain the services of an experienced Washington state personal injury attorney. 

The legal team at Davis Law Group can help you evaluate your claim and determine how to go about getting the most compensation possible for your damages. We will assist in making sure you have the documentation necessary to include lost wages in your claim for recovery. A skilled lawyer is your best asset in getting the compensation you need to make a full recovery.

For a free case evaluation, contact Davis Law Group at (206) 727-4000.

Image: Pexels

Chris Davis
Award-winning personal injury attorney and founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, Washington.