Calculating Lost Wages in a Washington Personal Injury Case

After a car accident or a slip and fall, some people think that after a few days rest they will be back on their feet and back to work. Unfortunately, for millions of American workers, the reality is that recovery takes much longer. Following any accident, make sure you account for the lost wages and loss of earning capacity that may follow.

Max Meyers can help you calculate lost wages when filing a personal injury claim to ensure you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call us at 425-399-7000 for help.

How long will I be out of work?

Obviously, a big factor in the value of your lost wages is the length of your recovery. The longer you are out, the more wages you do not collect.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 15.6 million injury episodes resulted in missed work from 2011 to 2014. In 26 percent of these cases, employees were out one to five days, while 15 percent of these cases cost the employee six days or more.

A serious injury can cause significant losses in wages over your recovery time.

Why is recovering lost wages important?

The average American does not have the means to take care of surprise bills such as ambulance fees, hospitalizations, and surgery. Earlier this year, a report from found 63 percent of working Americans cannot handle an unexpected $500 car repair or $1,000 emergency room bill.

Even with health insurance, a serious injury can cost thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. These concerns are just the start of the problem. Along with the unexpected medical bills, your normal bills for rent, utilities, car payments, and more will continue to come regardless of your injury or inability to return to work.

Thankfully, when another party's negligence causes an accident, you might be able to recover your lost wages and more through a personal injury claim.

How do I prove the value of my lost wages?

Proving lost wages requires that you establish a baseline for what you normally earned before your accident and then calculate how much of your normal income you were unable to collect due to your injury. Proof of these facts will require evidence such as:

  • Paystubs
  • W-2 or 1099 tax forms
  • Letter from employer verifying normal wages and unpaid sick leave due to injury
  • Letter from doctor instructing you not to return to work until you meet specific conditions
  • Hospitalization records

For self-employed individuals, company owners, non-hourly workers, and workers whose majority of income comes from tips, calculating your average wages and lost wages can be difficult. In these situations, a personal injury attorney is equipped to identify the necessary evidence to prove your estimated earnings during your recovery and fight for your right to recovery.

What if I cannot return to work or return to a lower-paying job?

Some injuries cause permanent disabilities that either prevent a worker from returning to work completely or prevent a worker from returning to the same type of work as before the accident. In this case, you might be entitled to recovery for lost earning capacity.

Lost or impaired earning capacity refers to your inability to return to work that earns the same pay as you earned before the accident. An example of when lost earning capacity can apply is if head trauma from a motorcycle accident causes brain damage and harms the person's ability to perform fine motor skills and cognitive reasoning.

Impaired earning capacity would apply in a situation where a person suffers a lower spinal injury, causing paralysis of the legs and confining the person to a wheelchair. If he previously worked as a roofer, he may have to accept an administrative job that pays less than his previous occupation.

In cases of lost or impaired earning capacity, you may need to secure an expert witness to testify on the extent of your lost future earning capacity. By evaluating your previous wages and accounting for estimated promotions or raises, as well as inflation, the expert can estimate the income you are expected to lose due to your injury.

Max Meyers will help you gather the evidence to prove your lost wages and lost earning capacity. From building your case to hiring the expert witnesses necessary to prove your right to compensation, let our legal team handle your personal injury case. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, 425-399-7000.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.