Personal injuries cause accident victims to be faced with a myriad of bills, including the costs of surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and various other medical appointments. The healing process itself is a major financial burden. But that burden can get even heavier when you’re no longer able to work because of your injuries and find yourself without your usual paycheck.
Thankfully, a personal injury claim allows injury victims to seek compensation for lost wages caused by another person’s negligence. After an injury due to negligence, you should not have to suffer financially for an accident that was not your fault. Lost wages compensation is a common type of financial recovery for people facing financial hardships after a personal injury, but it does require that the injured party file a personal injury claim.
What’s Considered Lost Wages?
Lost wages compensation is meant to cover the money you would have earned if your injuries had not prevented you from working. Lost wages can be caused by missed work due to medical appointments, time spent in the hospital, or time spent recovering at home.
Lost wages can also include what is known as lost earning potential. Lost earning potential (or lost earning capacity) refers to the loss of a person’s ability to earn a certain amount of income due to their personal injury. This situation usually occurs when a person’s injury is severe and causes them to become disabled or to have to go into a different line of work because of their injury.
For example, a person with severe back injuries due to a car accident may not be able to deliver packages anymore because of the demands of the job. This may require them to make a career change and take a lesser paying job somewhere else.
How Do You Prove Lost Wages?
You can prove lost wages through documentation of your income. One example of documentation is a letter from your employer. The letter should include the amount of income you lost and the dates and times you were absent from work.
Additionally, your previous pay stubs and prior tax returns will show how much you typically earned before the personal injury occurred.
Medical records are crucial in proving future lost wages. Based on your injury, medical experts can project how long your recovery will last. This will show the length of time you’ll have to recover wages for. For example, if your case is going to settle before you have an important surgery, you will need compensation for the time you will have to miss from work in the future due to that surgery.
If possible, don’t make the decision to miss work on your own. Talk to your doctor about your employment situation. Based on the severity of your injuries and your type of job, a physician may decide to order you off work. Further, an insurance company may contest the reasonableness of missed time from work without a doctor’s order.
How Do You Get Lost Wages If You’re Self-Employed?
A personal injury victim who is self-employed may have a more difficult time proving lost wages. If he or she is taking a salary from his or her own company, demonstrating lost wages can be straightforward. However, in the absence of a formal salary, the company’s earnings may have to be considered instead. If the company’s profits have diminished, that may serve as proof of lost wages. This is more common than you might think since plenty of people own small businesses providing services in their communities.
In these situations, it’s critical to show that the injured owner’s inability to work led to the company’s decreased profits. The opposing party could claim that the decrease is due to some other factor not related to the injury. If you’re an injured business owner, your personal injury attorney can evaluate your company’s track record and gather additional evidence to help you prove that your injuries are impacting your business income.
Loss of Earning Capacity
A serious injury can significantly limit your professional opportunities and completely change your career path. For example, if you work in construction or in another physically demanding industry, you rely heavily on your body to earn income. An accident like a slip and fall could rob you of your mobility, which in turn compromises your income. You may have no other choice but to accept a job that is out of your profession or that pays much less than what you’re used to making.
This situation could also arise in cases of brain injuries that cause people to develop cognitive issues. As mental capabilities are essential for work, you may have to settle for a less lucrative position due to no fault of your own.
When your earning capacity is reduced, you can pursue the lost earnings you would have most likely been making if you hadn’t been injured. When valuing your claim, your personal injury attorney will put together evidence to support your lost earning capacity, as well as any bonuses, promotions, pay raises, and other career advancements you could have reasonably expected.
Disability and Workers’ Compensation due to Personal Injuries
In the United States, 61 million adults live with a disability. Some of these disabilities leave them unable to work. Fortunately, there are resources like Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to keep Americans able to take care of their bills. SSDI is available to longtime members of the workforce. SSI is available even to those who don’t have an extensive work history. This often includes young people who become injured prior to starting their careers or shortly after they start working.
Both SSI and SSDI provide a great deal of financial relief for people living with a disability. However, the application process is detailed and lengthy. It can take over six months to begin receiving benefits, and not all applications are approved.
If you were injured due to a workplace injury, you can collect Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are eligible under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. When you are injured while on the clock, you may be able to collect temporary total disability pay (TTD). Your personal injury attorney can help you to get the proper benefits and walk you through what steps will be necessary to get you financially stable as quickly as possible.
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 to receive maximum compensation for your injuries much faster.
Get Help Recovering Lost Wages due to a Personal Injury
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, speak to a personal injury attorney at Abels & Annes. Our attorneys will comprehensively review your case and work diligently to secure the most compensation possible for you. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online. We look forward to speaking with you.