Lost wages after a car accident can cause severe financial hardships. Therefore, seeking compensation for these economic damages is a top priority. A personal injury attorney can help you file a claim and seek reimbursement for loss of income from all available sources.
What is Considered as Lost Wages After a Car Crash?
Lost wages refer to the income and benefits you would have received had you not been injured in the car accident.
A claim for loss of income includes:
- Wages and salaries
- Overtime wages
- Vacation time and sick leave
- Other benefits related to income
In addition to recovering compensation for your lost wages, you may also recover compensation for a loss of earning capacity. A loss of earning capacity results when a person cannot earn the same level of income after a car crash because of a permanent impairment or disability.
Furthermore, if the disability or impairment results in total loss of income, you may be able to recover compensation for all future lost wages.
Filing a PIP Claim for Lost Wages in Tampa
The first source of compensation for lost wages is filing a PIP claim. Florida requires drivers to carry no-fault (PIP) insurance. PIP insurance pays benefits regardless of who causes the car accident.
You must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the crash date to be eligible for PIP benefits. The benefits include payment of lost wages. However, the maximum benefit for loss of income under PIP coverage is 60 percent of the lost wages.
PIP insurance covers your lost wages, medical bills, and paying someone to perform household chores you cannot perform because of your injuries. The minimum PIP coverage is $10,000. You can purchase maximum higher limits of PIP insurance. If you have minimum coverage and your medical bills exceed $10,000, you will not receive any money for your lost wages.
You have the burden of proving that the car accident resulted in injuries that prevented you from working. You must also provide evidence of the amount of money you lost in income because of your accident injuries.
Evidence Used to Prove the Loss of Income
Proving your lost wages requires that you have evidence of the amount of income you earned before you were injured in a car accident.
The types of evidence used to prove a loss of income claim includes, but may not be limited to:
- A statement from your employer verifying how much you earn and what your compensation would have been for the time you missed from work
- Copies of evidence that proves your income, such as tax returns, pay stubs, W-2 statements, and other income statements
- Medical records that prove you sustained injuries that prevented you from being able to work
If you seek compensation for a loss of earning potential, you will also need evidence that shows how much money you would have earned had you not sustained a permanent impairment or disability. The evidence is similar to the evidence for a future lost wages claim.
Generally, you need statements from medical experts that explain the level of your disability and how your disability prevents or limits your ability to work. Additionally, you need evidence establishing the amount of money you would have earned. Typically, that requires statements and analysis from economists and other financial experts.
Factors that impact a future loss of income claim include, but are not limited to:
- Occupation or career
- Current age and anticipated retirement age
- Experience and skills
- Anticipated rate of inflation
- Potential for career advancement
Estimating loss of income can be challenging. The insurance company will likely challenge the calculations. Having expert witnesses provide a detailed analysis of the calculations can help strengthen your demand for compensation.
Filing a Liability Claim for Lost Wages After a Tampa Car Accident
In some cases, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver for lost wages. However, under Florida’s laws, you must sustain a serious injury to file a liability claim against the driver who caused your car wreck.
The statutes define a serious injury as:
- Scarring or disfigurement that is permanent and significant
- An injury that has a reasonable medical chance of causing a permanent injury
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
In addition to proving that your injury meets or exceeds the injury threshold for a liability claim, you have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the car accident. You can only hold the other driver responsible for your lost wages and other damages if the driver caused the crash.
Therefore, you also need evidence proving negligence or causation for the accident. If you prove your case, you could receive compensation for all lost wages, not just the 60 percent paid by PIP insurance.
Contributory Fault and Claims for Lost Income
Another factor in a lost wages claim is contributory fault. Florida law states that a victim’s compensation for damages may be reduced by the person’s percentage of fault for causing the accident.
For instance, if your actions contributed to the cause of the car crash by 25 percent, the amount of compensation you receive equals 75 percent of the value of your claim. If your lost wages totaled $150,000, you would receive $112,500.
If you are being blamed for contributing to the cause of the car accident, seek legal advice immediately. The allegations could result in a significant decrease in the amount of money you receive for your lost wages claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
Battling the insurance company for your lost wages after a car accident can be challenging. Having an experienced law firm on your side can improve your chances of recovering lost wages. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with our Tampa car accident lawyer to discuss your case.