After a hectic day at work, you are driving home and then boom! The motorist behind you negligently crashes into your car. Your vehicle is totaled, your back hurts, you feel dizzy, and you cannot move one of your legs. After you go to the hospital, you are given a doctor’s note informing your employer that you cannot work for the next month. As you get paid by the hour, this is financial devastating as you need that money to pay your bills. The unanticipated injuries and subsequent financial burden is not something you planned for.
If you have missed work due to the injuries you sustained in a motor vehicle accident, you should be able to receive compensation for all the income you lost as long as you prove you were earning money and how the injuries will affect your earning ability moving forward. Thus, “lost wages” generally falls under two categories:
- Income you did not receive from your job because the car wreck put you in a position where you could not work.
- Income you will miss out in the future because of the injuries put you in a position where you could not do the same work you could move forward.
Calculating Lost Income After A Car Accident
To work out lost income, an accident victim requires two figures: the total income they have earned since getting injured, and the estimated total income they might have earned if they’d reported to work daily as expected. If successful, a lost income claim can compensate for the difference (or estimated difference based on the insurance policy’s guidelines).
As such, claiming lost income is easiest for people who work certain hours and pocket a steady wage. If your work schedule or salary contract can show that you would reliably have worked a certain number of hours to get a certain wage had you not been injured, then it can be quite easy to calculate lost income. Even if a jury or insurance company doesn’t pay the total amount sought, the victim has at least demonstrated a pattern of income that was evidently affected by their injuries.
But not everyone earns the same wage or works the same number of hours every month. You may not be consistently scheduled. You may rely on commissions or tips. You may be an independent contractor or self-employed, earning whatever you can once work is available. Your attorney may need to rely on previous years’ tax returns; 1099’s; or even copies of paid or outstanding invoices over the last few years and after the wreck.
In such cases, injured plaintiffs must work out an estimate of what they would have earned. We have hired expert witnesses to testify about the amount of money you have lost because of the wreck because of a particular client’s situation. If you’ve been earning around the same wage for several years doing the same job, then tax returns may help you figure out what your average wage could have been. If you have had an inconsistent income, or you recently went through a significant change in life that impacted your wages, then it might be hard to prove to a jury or judge what you ought to have earned all things considered. You will still be able to testify about those lost wages and how the injuries have affected your ability to make the kind of money you were making pre-injury.
As calculating lost income can be very complicated, Foster Wallace often caution victims not to expect some specific amount, particularly if they have not earned regular wages in the last few years.
You can also claim lost compensation, lost earning capacity, and future income losses. Usually, our car accident attorneys will use a forensic economist to work out the basis for your future losses of income. Factors such as your age, employment history, education, skills, and physical disability are taken into account when calculating your future losses of income.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Car Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Kansas City car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.