Lost Wages After a Car Accident

Car Accidents | August 3, 2020

Car accidents can significantly affect a person’s life. Not only are victims often left dealing with the pain and suffering of their injuries, but also other hidden costs of the crash. Among these hidden costs are lost wages.

Whether a vehicle accident results in only minor injuries more severe injuries, a victim may be forced to miss work. When this happens, it is important to know whether or not lost wages are recoverable as part of the compensation awarded through an insurance settlement or a jury verdict. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were more than 272,000 total traffic crash injuries during the latest reporting year of data available. Many of these injuries resulted in victims losing income.

Why Are Lost Wages Important?

The aftermath of an accident brings incredible stress to a crash victim in their family members. The immediate priorities after a vehicle accident are obtaining and continuing medical care so that any injured victim can make a full recovery. However, if a victim is unable to work due to their injuries, they must immediately determine how to deal with incoming expenses and regular household bills.

The life of the crash victim and their family does not stop or slow down just because an accident occurred. Even missing just a few days of work can place crash victims and their families into precarious financial situations.

Can You Recover Lost Wages?

The good news is that California law does allow victims in vehicle accident cases to recover lost wages. Basic liability car insurance will generally provide coverage for lost wages, and plaintiffs in any personal injury case will typically be able to recover compensation for lost wages in the event their case is successful.

In order to be able to recover lost wages, it needs to be shown that the injury the victim sustained prevents them from going to work in earning the money that they would ordinarily be able to earn. For example, if a construction worker breaks their arm in a collision, it will be unlikely that they are able to perform their job duties for an extended period of time. If they cannot return to work for six weeks, then they should be entitled to six weeks of lost compensation through an insurance settlement or through a personal injury lawsuit. If you or a loved one are curious about filing a lawsuit, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney during a free consultation.

What About Lost Earning Capacity?

In some cases, a traffic collision in California will cause a permanent or long-lasting disability that affects a victim’s ability to make money for an indefinite period of time into the future. In these cases, the accident victim may be entitled to compensation for “lost earning capacity.” This type of coverage is a bit different than coverage for lost wages. Lost wages are designed to pay the income that a person misses out on for a short period of time while they recover, while lost earning capacity compensation is designed to provide coverage for an indefinite period of time.

How to Calculate Lost Wages?

Calculating lost wages will typically be done by gathering proof of what a person would normally have earned during the period of time they missed work due to their car accident injury. In most cases, the injured person will be able to gather recent paychecks, statements from their employer, tax returns, W2s, and more to show the total compensation they are losing during the recovery.

Calculating lost earning capacity could be a bit more challenging because the parties involved will be asked to predict the earnings that a worker would make in the future. All of the same documentation mentioned above will be used to help calculate lost earning capacity, but some future predictions may be necessary. This includes analyzing and predicting any future wage increases or promotions that a worker will no longer be able to receive due to their injuries or disability. Consider hiring a car accident lawyer with extensive experience in collision cases to help you calculate all lost wages for your claim.