Documenting Your Claim: Lost Wages
You are entitled to receive compensation for time missed from work. These are called “lost wages” and are a component of your special damages. They are a hard number that is capable of being exactly calculated, unlike pain and suffering. Like everything in your claim, you must document your lost wages. If you get paid by the hour, you will simply multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours and days you missed from work. If you are salary, you take your annual salary and figure out your daily pay to arrive at your lost wages. A lot of times salaried employees will use sick days or vacation days for their absences so as to not lose any salary. You still get compensated for loss of time from work even though you used sick or vacation days. Sick days are to cover the everyday illnesses, not missed time from a car accident that was someone else’s fault. And vacation days are obviously for your enjoyment, not to be in pain from a car accident.
Insurance companies will not consider lost wages unless they are documented by your employer. Some will go so far as to not consider them unless your doctor wrote an excuse note, saying you were unable to work per doctor’s orders (what is this elementary school?). To ensure you get what you deserve, use our Lost Wages Verification Form to work with your boss or Human Resources Department to document you lost wages. This form essentially proves up time missed from work and how much money you lost from the absences.
If you are self employed, you will need to jump through some more hoops to get your lost income documented enough for the adjuster to consider it. First, document the time (hours or days) lost from work. Then you need to figure out how you can document what you would have made during that time. Possible sources of evidence are invoices, billings, or accounting records. If you have an accountant, he/she should be able to help you devise a way of presenting lost income. If you are not compensated on a commission basis, you can take your earnings per week to come up with an average weekly wage. Then, work that average down to a daily average and multiply by the days or hours you missed work. You may also want to use your income tax returns to show what your gross income was during the year and then calculate the daily or weekly average to multiply against your lost time.
Some adjusters take the position that your treating doctor must have ordered you to take off from work. While this is somewhat of an inappropriate request, the adjuster unfortunately has policies they are following before being able to give you money for certain types of damages. You can certainly try fighting your way through this “requirement.” The more proactive approach is to ask your doctor to give you a note and to put a copy in your chart.
Change in Position
Sometimes injuries will cause you to find a new career. This is especially true if you have a job with physical demands. If you are forced to change careers or positions within your employer, you will need a doctor’s note or something in your chart indicating the doctor has concluded you cannot do your old job’s physical requirements.
Your damages will include the difference in pay for changing jobs. Of course, if you end up making more money when you switch jobs then you won’t have any damages because you have not been financially harmed. Otherwise, you can claim the lost income (as the change in annual pay multiplied by the remaining years in your life span) as damages.