Explaining Lost Wages After You Were Injured

April 15, 2024 | David Abels
Explaining Lost Wages After You Were Injured

Accidents resulting from others' negligence can lead to serious personal injuries, which may cause mounting medical bills. Victims sometimes need to undergo complicated medical procedures or surgery after an accident. They might also need to pay for a hospital visit, ongoing physical therapy, and other medical appointments. Healing after a serious accident can take a financial toll on the accident victim.

That burden may increase significantly if their injuries prevent them from working. For example, many accident victims working in the building or construction industries must take a lengthy leave of absence from their jobs when they are injured. If they don't have a regular paycheck coming in, they may experience severe financial hardship.

If you suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else's carelessness, you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for monetary damages. In most instances, your lawyer can file a lawsuit with the at-fault party's insurance company. You can recover lost income as part of your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In some circumstances, you can also claim lost earning capacity.

A knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim and pursue lost earnings. If so, your attorney can assist you with every aspect of the claims-filing process and will work diligently to recover the damages you need. If the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your lost earnings, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and litigate your case to a conclusion in court.

What are Lost Wages in Personal Injury Cases?

The purpose of bringing a lost wage claim is to recover the monetary compensation you should have earned from your job had you not suffered injuries in an accident. In some instances, the sheer pain associated with your injuries may prevent you from working for a significant period. Alternatively, you may need to take time off work to attend medical and physical therapy appointments. This is especially true if you suffer a permanent injury or disability in your accident.

Permanent injuries are those which are unlikely to become better over time. These injuries may also cause an accident victim to experience lifelong pain and discomfort in the affected areas of their body.

What May Be Included in a Lost Wages Claim?

Lost wages refer to the income an individual loses as a direct result of being unable to work due to an injury or illness caused by another party's negligence or wrongdoing. In the context of a car accident, for example, lost wages are the monetary losses an injured person suffers because they can't work while recovering from their injuries.

Lost wages can include:

  • Salary or hourly pay: The income you would have earned had you been able to work as usual.
  • Overtime pay: If you regularly worked overtime hours, you might be entitled to compensation for the overtime income you lost due to the accident.
  • Bonuses or commissions: If you typically earn bonuses or commissions as part of your job, you may be able to claim these losses.
  • Self-employment income: If you are self-employed, you can claim lost income based on your average earnings before the accident.
  • Sick days or vacation time: If you had to use accrued sick days or vacation time to recover from your injuries, you might be able to claim the value of these lost benefits.

To claim lost wages, you must prove that your injuries directly prevented you from working and that you would have earned the claimed income had the accident not occurred. This typically requires documentation such as medical records, employment records, and expert testimony.

It's important to note that lost wages are distinct from other types of damages an injured person may claim, such as medical expenses, property damage, or pain and suffering. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help assess the full extent of your damages, including lost wages, and work to secure fair compensation for all accident-related losses.

The Burden of Proof in a Claim for Lost Wages

In all personal injury claims and lawsuits, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. Therefore, they must establish every legal element of their claim. On the other hand, the at-fault party does not have to prove anything in the case. The same holds true in a claim for lost income, as the accident victim has the legal burden of proof.

Proving lost wages in a personal injury case is sometimes an uphill battle. That is because insurance companies often try to avoid paying these damages.

One of the best ways to prove your entitlement to lost wage compensation is by documenting your income and calculating lost wages for the time you missed. For example, you might submit a letter from your employer showing the dates and times you missed work and the amount of money you lost.

In addition to recovering monetary compensation for past lost wages, you may be eligible to make a future lost wage claim. You improve your chances of recovering these damages by introducing medical records in your case. In those records, a medical provider must estimate—to a reasonable degree of medical probability—the amount of time it will likely take you to recover from your injuries.

The insurance company can then use this information, along with your employer's records, to determine the anticipated work compensation you will lose. For example, if a medical provider believes that you will need to undergo a complicated medical procedure in the future, they can estimate how long it will likely take for you to make a full recovery.

Lost Wages When an Injured Worker Is Self-employed

Explaining lost wages after an injury accident when a worker is self-employed - and obtaining that lost compensation - can be more difficult. This is because self-employed individuals typically do not receive a formal salary and may not have a typical pay stub to verify missing pay.

In this instance, the insurance company will have to look at the self-employed individual’s average earnings from their company or another business enterprise. In cases where a self-employed individual’s monthly or yearly income has gone down significantly following their accident, they may use this fact as a basis for proving their lost wage claim.

In cases where an injured accident victim is self-employed, they will need to demonstrate that the reason why their company’s profits decreased is that they were unable to work following their accident.

A knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can help you make a case proving lost income and other monetary compensation stemming from your recent accident.

Monetary Compensation for Loss of Earning Capacity

Explaining Lost Wages After You Were Injured

In addition to pursuing monetary compensation for lost wages, an injured accident victim may be eligible to make a claim for loss of earning capacity. This accounts for lost earnings potential in the future. These types of damages are especially common among injured construction workers and builders. These workers typically rely heavily upon their bodies to perform their work duties.

If they suffer injuries in a serious car crash or slip-and-fall accident, they may be out of work for a significant time. Moreover, if they suffer severe enough accident injuries, they may need to change jobs or entire careers due to their inability to work. This may result in lost promotions or a large pay cut.

When the insurance company evaluates your claim, they should consider any pay cuts you experienced, as well as a lack of bonuses, promotions, or career advancement. A personal injury attorney in your area can offer a free consultation to help you decide if you are eligible to bring a claim for loss of earning capacity. If so, you can pursue the necessary claim with the insurance company.

Types of Accidents That Lead to Personal Injury Claims and Lawsuits

Personal injury claims, including claims for lost wages, usually arise from others’ negligent actions and inactions. A person or entity is negligent when they fail to follow the applicable standard of care under the circumstances. In other words, they must act unreasonably.

To prevail in a negligence claim, an injured person must satisfy their legal burden of proof. Specifically, they must show that the at-fault party behaved unreasonably under the circumstances and that, as a result, the subject accident occurred. Next, they must show that they suffered at least one injury in the accident and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.

When individuals and entities behave negligently, they may cause various types of accidents.

Some of the most common accidents that result from others’ negligence include:

  • Car accidents when a driver engages in road rage, violates one or more traffic accidents, or engages in distracted or intoxicated driving.
  • Premises accidents, where a property owner fails to take care of their property and correct—or warn about—dangerous conditions within a reasonable period.

Injuries That Accident Victims May Suffer

Whenever individuals and entities behave negligently, and an accident occurs, victims may suffer various injuries. The specific injuries that accident victims sustain often depend upon the type of accident that occurs, the force of the accident, and the body part(s) affected.

Common injuries that accident victims suffer include traumatic head and brain damage, soft tissue contusions, broken bones, fractures, internal organ damage, cuts, bruises, abrasions, paralysis injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

If you suffered injuries in an accident that prevented you from working, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can help you calculate lost wages. The insurance company may refuse to take your case seriously and will not offer you fair compensation. In this case, your attorney can file a lawsuit and litigate your lost wages claim in the court system.

What Other Damages Can I Recover in a Personal Injury Case Besides Lost Wages?

In addition to lost wage compensation, people who suffer car accident injuries, slip and fall injuries, or other injuries due to the negligent actions of another can recover other types of damages. The total damages an injured person recovers usually depend upon the severity of their injuries, the cost of their medical treatment, and other related factors.

In addition to wage loss compensation, someone who suffered serious injuries can pursue damages for their:

  • Related medical expenses
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of the ability to use a body part
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Permanent disfigurement or disability
  • Loss of spousal companionship and consortium

A skilled personal injury attorney in your area can negotiate with the settlement adjuster and work to maximize the total compensation you recover in your case. If your case must go to a jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding, your lawyer can aggressively represent you and fight for your right to recover the damages you deserve.

In any situation involving lost wages or wage compensation, it is best to speak to an attorney as early as possible. Having a qualified personal injury attorney handle your injury claim from the start can help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries much faster.

Call a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You Today

Dave Abels Personal Injury Lawyer

If you suffered injuries in an accident resulting from another person's negligence, a personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable help. If you elect to represent yourself, the insurance company handling your claim will likely take advantage of you.

Most insurance companies and their adjusters believe that unrepresented individuals lack the necessary settlement negotiation and litigation skills to handle their cases effectively. Therefore, insurance companies typically offer unrepresented accident victims far less compensation than their case is worth. The insurance adjusters may not even consider those damages as part of your personal injury claim. You have to have lost wages calculated into your insurance claim.

The knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can represent you during every stage of your claim or lawsuit and work to recover the damages you deserve, including compensation for your lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Our legal team understands how lost wages and earning capacity affect your future earnings. Do not risk losing out on wage replacement payments. Seek legal help today. We will fight to ensure you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.

Chicago Office

100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602

Toll Free: (855) 529-2442
Phone: (312) 924-7575

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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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