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Can I Get Paid for Missing Work Due to Car Accident?

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Being injured in a car accident can affect your day to day life in many ways. Depending on the type, location, and severity of the injury, you may even be out of work for a substantial amount of time. This can sometimes lead to people trying to rush the healing process or foregoing treatment in order to get back to work before they are ready. If the injuries are severe enough, they may not be able to return to work at all or have their ability to perform their duties greatly diminished. Lost or reduced income as a consequence of an accident may be included in a personal injury claim. An attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to ensure you are properly compensated.


What are Lost Wages?

When we talk about lost wages in the context of a personal injury claim, we are referring to the lost income that the plaintiff would have earned if they had not been injured. If you miss a month of work due to the accident, you have lost a month of wages. Some jobs offer paid time off that their employees may be able to utilize in such situations. However, many employers do not provide more than the legal requirement of sick time.


Can I Recover Lost Wages from a Car Accident?

Lost wages are considered economic damages, meaning that they are part of the tangible financial losses suffered due to the accident. These are different from non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Other types of economic damages can include:

  • Medical Bills
  • Property Damage Repairs
  • Transportation Costs
  • Homecare Expenses

If you would have earned a certain amount of money, but were unable to because you were injured, that is considered a financial loss caused by the accident. You should be able to be compensated for that loss alongside your other related expenses.


Who Pays for Lost Wages After a Car Accident?

In the state of California, all drivers are legally required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. This means that if they cause an accident, their insurance company will pay for damages to the other party. If you are injured in an accident and the driver who caused the accident is uninsured, your own insurance may cover your damages under certain coverages.


How are Lost Wages Calculated?

If you work a set schedule, lost wages can be fairly simple to calculate. You simply add up the days or weeks that you miss work and the amount of money you would earn during that time period. If there is more variation in your schedule, you can use pay stubs and bank statements to see how much money you were making before the accident and how much you made after the accident. This can help show not only lost wages, but also loss of earning capacity. You may be able to return to work but cannot work as many hours due to pain. By comparing your wages before and after the accident, you can account for these things as well.


Can I File a Lost Wages Claim Even If I Was Paid to Miss Work?

Even if your employer allows you to use accrued paid time off to cover your absence, those are still earned wages that you have lost due to the accident. That vacation time or sick pay that you use may be needed later on and would no longer be available. Because of this, you may be able to claim used paid time off as part of your lost wages.


How is Paid Time Off Valued When Accounting for Lost Wages?

Vacation days and sick days are valued as equal to regular days of work. Some employers count them by the day and some count them by the individual hours, depending on how scheduling and pay rates are handled by that particular company. If you use a week of paid time off to cover absences due to your accident, you can calculate the damages as a week of lost wages.


What Other Factors Can Impact Lost Wages?

Lost wage claims are not just about the days you had to take off work after the accident. There are many other things to consider when calculating damages and compensation, such as:

  • PTO and other benefits
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of future wages
  • Estimated wage growth
  • Industry/position earnings

Business Records

There are many types of documents and records that you can use to prove lost wages. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Bank statements
  • Contracts
  • Expense reports
  • Invoices
  • Pay stubs
  • Schedules
  • Tax reports
  • Timecards


Growth Trends

If you own a business that is expanding, are an employee on track for advancement, or work in an industry that is showing financial growth, then missing work due to an injury can hold you back from a potential increase of income. This is something that can also be taken into consideration when claiming lost wages. If you can show that you would have experienced a substantial growth in your income if not for the accident, you may be able to claim lost earning potential.


Costs to Replace You

If you are a business owner who is unable to work, you are responsible for the cost of labor needed to replace you. Hiring additional workers to fill in can include things like payroll taxes, benefits, training costs, or even hiring a temp agency to find someone for you. You may decide instead to simply have your current employees cover your work for you. This still involves paying them for the additional hours, possible overtime pay, and other reimbursements. If you are unable to work due to injury from an accident, these expenses could be added to your claim.


What Do I Need to Do to File a Lost Wages Claim?

While it is not legally required for you to have an attorney in order to file a personal injury claim, it can still be extremely beneficial to you in a number of ways. They will open the appropriate claims with the insurance companies and help you build your case. They can advise you on what types of damages you can claim compensation for such as lost wages as well as helping you gather any evidence that will be needed. If you were the victim of a hit and run or the other driver did not have insurance, you may need to see if you can file with your own insurance. This means obtaining a declaration page outlining the coverage and limits on your policy. Once you have all of the coverage information and evidence of your damages, your attorney will put together a demand package to send to the insurance company.


What is a Demand Package and What Do I Need for it?

A demand package is the official request for compensation that includes the demand letter and the documentation evidence supporting the claim. The demand letter includes information regarding:

  • An overview of the incident
  • Details of the injuries
  • The liability of the other party
  • An outline of the economic damages
  • An explanation of the non-economic damages
  • A proposed settlement amount

Evidence that may be provided with the demand letter can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Medical reports
  • Therapy notes
  • Photos and video
  • Financial records
  • Paystubs and timecards
  • Expense receipts
  • Letter from your employer

Speak With a Doctor

Insurance companies tend to trust the word of professionals and experts more than the claimants themselves. This is one of the reasons why it is important to get documentation from your doctor. If you feel you are unable to work due to your injuries, your doctor can help determine if you need any accommodations or some kind of leave. They can also provide you with written confirmation of the need for work restrictions or absences. These notes from your doctor can be given to the insurance company and your employer to help substantiate your claims.

Prove You Missed Work and Income

Proving a loss of income can sometimes be more difficult than proving added expenses. It is best to provide as much evidence as possible, such as:

  • Medical notes confirming work absence due to the injury
  • FMLA or disability leave documentation
  • Pay stubs showing pay rates and usual hours worked
  • Bank statements showing income before and after the accident
  • Tax documents showing usual income
  • Documents outlining company time off policies
  • Timecards showing change in schedule


Can I Recover Wages if I Am Self Employed?

It is common for income made through self-employment to be less predictable than a job with a salary or set schedule. This can make proving loss of income due to an accident a bit more complicated to prove, but not impossible. Bank statements and tax returns can help show the usual trends and patterns of your income. Emails and other messages with clients can show cancelled appointments and postponed engagements. Anything that illustrates the absence of an income that you would otherwise be earning can help an insurance claim for lost wages.


What If I Am Permanently Disabled and Unable to Return to Work After a Car Accident?

Claims for lost wages can also include future losses and lost earning capacity. If you are disabled due to the injury and are unable to work, you can claim for the future wages that you would have earned and are missing out on. This may mean that you are unable to work completely, or that you are not able to work as much as before or perform all of the same job duties. There may also be advancement opportunities that you are no longer eligible for. Lost future wages and lost earning capacity can be difficult to prove but your attorney can guide you through the process and help you gather all of the necessary evidence.


What Do I Need to Prove to Win My Lost Wages Claim?

Claiming lost wages due to a car accident would be part of the overall personal injury claim. In order to receive compensation for lost wages, you must first establish your right to compensation for the accident in general. Therefore, you would need to prove that:

  • The defendant owed you some kind of duty of care
  • The defendant acted in a way that breached their duty of care
  • That breach of duty of care directly or predominantly caused the accident
  • The accident caused you to suffer physical injuries
  • Your injuries prevented you from working and earning your usual wages


Contact Mesriani Law if You Have Missed Work Due to a Car Accident

There are many different types of losses and damages that may be incurred due to a car accident beyond physical injuries and property damage. Suffering the consequences of someone else’s actions can be an overwhelming and stressful ordeal that no one should have to go through alone. Hiring a personal injury lawyer ensures that you have the support and guidance to see you through to the best possible outcome. Our firm has years of experience winning car accident cases and making sure our clients are well taken care of. We will walk you through all of the ways your life was impacted by the accident and your injuries so that all of your damages are accounted for. If you have missed work and lost out on wages due to injuries caused by a car accident, call Mesriani Law Group today for a free consultation.


Lost Wages FAQs

What to do if you miss work due to an accident?

If you have to miss work due to an accident, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Be sure to follow whatever protocol they have for calling out and requesting time off. Have your doctor provide a note confirming the need for your absence due to injury. If you need to be out of work due to a car accident for an extended period of time, talk to your doctor about your options regarding FMLA or short term disability leave. They can also help you determine if you are able to work with restrictions, accommodations, or an amended schedule and help you submit the necessary requests and paperwork. Retain copies of all documentation and correspondence from your doctor as well as your employer. Compile pay stubs and any other records that can help illustrate any loss of income or utilized benefits such as paid time off.

How do you calculate loss of earnings for personal injury?

The best way to calculate lost wages depends on factors such as pay rate, pay structure, and predictability of income. For example:

• If you work a set schedule or make a specific salary, receiving the same amount on every paycheck, you can add up the usual value of the days missed.
• If you have to use your accrued PTO, you can add up the value of those hours.
• If you are paid hourly and work a fluctuating schedule, you can add up your income from the weeks or months before the accident and find the average to calculate a fair estimate of the time you lost.
• If your income changes based on busy or slow seasons, you can use past income you received during similar time periods or the average income trends for your industry while you are out of work.
• If you receive bonuses or commissions, you can estimate those losses based on your past income, average earnings for your position in your industry, or the bonuses and commissions made by your coworkers.


About the Author
Picture of Rodney Mesriani
Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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