Don’t Get Fooled: Getting Fair Value for Lost Wages in Your Accident Case

Don't Get Fooled: Getting Fair Value for Lost Wages in Your Accident Case

Thorough documentation of lost income is a powerful weapon in preparing a car accident injury claim.

And while pain, suffering and emotional distress are valid pieces of an injury claim, they are difficult to quantify with the dollar value.

Lost wages however can be itemized to the penny.

Insurance adjusters are impressed by cold hard numbers. By thoroughly preparing the lost wages component of your claim you not only maximize the dollars you’ll get for the lost wages but also the entire value of your claim.

Yet for whatever reason we see car accident lawyers in St. Petersburg near us who don’t put the time and energy into prepping up the lost wages claim. Worse still, some lawyers will give up on the lost wages claim if the injured party has received disability benefits or sick, vacation, or leave pay.

This is a costly mistake.

Lost Income versus Lost Compensation

Car accident lawyers often forget that a lost wages claim includes additional compensation above and beyond any direct loss income.

For example, consider the situation where you are forced to take a week off from work but you had to use seven sick days while you are recovering from your injuries. Your employer gives you set numbers of sick days and when you use them your set number goes down in accordance with how many of you stop.

While you may not have lost income because your employer paid you out for your sick days that you’ve accumulated, you have lost compensation. You lost financial benefits that you had with your employer but you had to use them up because of the accident. This is reimbursable as part of a lost wages claim.

Types of Employment Compensation

Sick Days: many employers provide designated sick days that can be utilized for a variety of reasons. If you had to use up sick days to get to treatment for your car accident or otherwise recover, this is reimbursable.

Pay Bonuses: employers will pay bonuses often if certain targets are met. But what if you had a certain sales target that you had to reach for a quarterly bonus and you just missed out on it because of the accident and because you couldn’t go to work when you would otherwise would have.

If you can prove that you’ve lost a pay bonus because of your accident, then you may be entitled to lost wages for the value of the bonus.

Bonus Days: Bonus days can be national holidays, birthdays, or any other sort of days that your employer provides you that you had to use up to keep income flowing because of the accident. Bonus days are recoverable as well.

Vacation Days: Much like sick days and bonus days, if you had to use of vacation days because of your accident then you may be entitled to recover value for the vacation days.

Proving Lost Wages

If Employed, Sitting Down with Human Resources to Determine Lost Income

While you certainly can have, your attorney pull your employment file, sometimes the quickest and easiest way to get the best information to prove up lost wages is to sit down with the human resources guy at your company.

In this scenario, you have your lawyer contact human resources to tell them exactly what they need to prove the claim. Then, you sit down with human resources and can have them pull definitive records of the exact days and times that you missed work. Human resources going to have your schedule and it will leave nothing to chance.

Pull Your Previous Wage and Pay History

if you have traditionally missed very little or no time because of sickness and illness then pulling your previous wage and pay history can help illustrate that this lost time because of this accident is the real deal.

The key is that you are getting written documentation from your employer that helps confirm the exact days you missed, the exact amount of money that you make, any special projects that you’re working on, any lost bonuses because of the accident, or any other perks and benefits that you lost.

If Self-Employed, Review Several years of Financial Documents

For the self-employed proving lost wages can be a bit more problematic.

Consider that some self-employed people who work for themselves may not even keep accurate tax records. And for others, the tax records may be prepared in such a way by an accountant to artificially reduce your income.

Nonetheless the documentation is almost always there. Start with tax returns, a couple years would be best. Next, we can use bank statements for the business to help show income coming in and expenses going out.

When the values high enough in some cases we may hire a forensic accountant to help us prove exact values for lost wages.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Denmon & Denmon for their insight into lost wages and personal injury practice.

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