The severity of an injury is one of the main factors in determining how long an accident victim will be unable to work. Without a regular income, it’s not long before financial stress compounds the dilemma. The requirements of supporting a family and keeping up with bills do not stop just because someone got hurt. If the injury was caused by another person’s negligence, however, the victim may be able to file a claim for damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
One of the primary aspects of a personal injury claim is the amount of damages. These are the losses suffered for which compensation can be legally sought. Compensation can be difficult to calculate since every case is different, but it can be pursued through a lawsuit for medical expenses and the pain and suffering endured. In addition, damages for lost income should not be omitted. In claiming compensation for lost wages, the figure should not only include all money lost from the date of the accident, but also all wages for future work opportunities that will never come to fruition because of the devastation from the accident and its ongoing effects.
What Does Lost Income Include?
When individuals are injured due to another person or entity’s negligence, the victims are entitled to receive financial compensation for time lost from not being able to work, plus any time that was missed when they had to leave work to go for therapy or to get treatment. All types of employees have the right to be compensated. This includes:
- Part-time and full-time employees
- Occasional and regular employees
- Weekly, monthly, and hourly workers
- Self-employed workers
Victims have a right to compensation for lost income relative to the base pay amount of their normal wages. In addition, they are eligible to receive the value of any other benefits they typically derive from their employer. Below are items for which victims may claim lost income, if applicable:
- Base Pay
- Vacation Days
- Sick Days
- Pay Raises
- Retirement Fund Contributions
- Commissions and Bonuses
If there are other forms of benefits typically received from an employer, victims may claim them when filing a lawsuit to be compensated for damages stemming from an injury. The negligent party or the insurance company insuring this party should be held liable for the injury and damages resulting from the negligence.
Document Your Lost Income
For individuals to receive reimbursement for lost wages, they will be required to show the following:
- The amount of time missed from work due to the accident, due to the resultant injuries, and due to the necessary recovery period
- The amount of money from wages and all other work benefits that have been lost due to missed work opportunities
For workers who are regularly employed by a specific individual or company, the process for getting documentation of lost income should be fairly simple. By asking a manager, supervisor, or a personnel office employee, injured workers will likely be given a written accounting printed on company stationery or letterhead.
The information in the letter should include the injured employee’s name, job position, rate of pay, the typical number of hours worked weekly, and the number of days or hours missed due to the accident. Whether or not the injured employee used vacation time, sick leave, or a leave of absence does not need to be stated in the letter.
For self-employed individuals or those who are irregularly employed, it is a bit more complicated to prove lost income. It is necessary for the injured worker to show the amount of work time lost and the amount of money that could have been earned if able to work. One could potentially show a decline in the number of invoices; or an appointment calendar with dates canceled; or documents and letters showing conferences, appointments, and meetings not able to be attended.
After showing the amount of work missed, injury victims must also show the amount of money that would have potentially been earned during the time of missed work. If these individuals were working at a steady pace right before the accident, they can gather all invoices, billings, payments received, plus any further documentation of money earned. This can be used as a basis for calculating the amount of income considered lost during the time these victims were not able to work.
If injured victims work seasonally or sporadically, it may seem a daunting task to figure out an accurate amount of income lost. However, these individuals can put together the total amount of income made during a full year, and then divide this amount into an average daily, weekly, or monthly amount.
The very best documentation to use is a personal income tax return filed the year before. Injury victims will only have to produce the portion of the return that shows their gross income for that year. Other information on the rest of the tax return is relevant, and no insurance adjuster has the right to that additional information. If that year’s earnings were particularly low compared to other years, then use the previous two or three years of tax returns to show the typical amount of earnings in a year. If there is other documentation available for the current partial year that has passed, this should be included as well.
Future Lost Earnings
Besides lost income from work missed, there is another category of compensation to be considered. This is lost earning capacity for the future. When accident victims are injured to the degree that their ability to earn a living in the exact same manner to which they are accustomed is impaired, they may also be able to seek compensation for this loss.
Legal Funding Helps Those Unable to Work
Unfortunately, living expenses don’t stop while accident victims wait out the process of a lawsuit. Some victims will never be able to work again, while others have financially fallen behind during the time they couldn’t work. Help is available for those struggling through an accident injury lawsuit.
The Legal Funding Group has a method called lawsuit funding. This process allows plaintiffs to receive a cash advance for living costs and other expenses while they wait for their personal injury lawsuit settlement.
Call us today at (912) 777-3997, or apply online.