Can I Recover Lost Wages or Earnings if I Am Injured?
April 23, 2020
Often those who suffer serious injuries in a car accident or slip and fall are not able to work. Whether you miss work for just a day, for several months, or are permanently disabled from work, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible to pay for your lost earnings. Missing work can lead to stress and family frustrations, as bill collectors and creditors often demand to be paid even when you cannot work.
Thus, missing work after an injury makes it extremely difficult to support a family. This sometimes leads to friction in the home and with loved ones. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a car accident, you need to document your lost time at work and lost income. The attorneys at The Jewkes Firm can help you in the process.
There are a number of options to recover lost wages or earnings. In this article, we discuss those options.
After an auto accident, you might be able to receive compensation for your lost wages. Lost earnings or wages refers to the payment you would have received under normal circumstances if the injury had not occurred. You might be able to recover the money that you are not able to earn due to medical appointments, hospitalizations, work restrictions, and therapies. However, to recover lost wages or earnings, you’ll be required to establish:
You were involved in car wreck or slip and fall (or other traumatic event);
You suffered an injury during the incident;
The injury from the incident made you incapable of working;
Missing work resulted in you losing your wages.
Georgia law has long held that damages for lost wages, lost earnings and/or earning capacity, due to a personal injury, are recoverable “so long as the amount can be determined with reasonable certainty.” Young v. Georgia Agric. Exposition Authority, 318 Ga. App. 244 (2012).
Fortunately, Georgia law allows employees to recover lost wages even if they are on salary. This is because many employers continue to pay employees on salary for missed time, but the employer has the employee take “paid time off” or PTO, and Georgia allows salaried employees to recover for lost wages if they took PTO. This is because PTO has value and the injured employee could have used the PTO for other purposes, such as personal reasons or vacations. Top employers recognize the value of PTO, too.
Car Insurance to Recover Lost Wages
If you have been in a car wreck, Georgia law says that you are entitled to recover your lost earnings or wages through the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance. Before you submit your claim, you must establish liability or fault of the other driver. You should also know what is covered under your auto policy terms, in the event the other driver is not insured. The kinds of coverage that can help you collect lost earnings include liability coverage. If the accident occurred due to the negligence of another driver, you may be able recover lost wages by submitting a claim through the bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage of the at-fault party.
Once you have submitted a claim to the insurance company, they will likely ask you to submit medical documents and provide proof of employment and lost wages. Below is an example of the Lost Wage Form we use at The Jewkes Firm to help support your claim. Your insurance company will use the information to confirm that you are actually injured and unable to work because of your injury. Provide all the required documentation and do not submit any false evidence. If inaccurate documentation is provided, your claim will be denied by the insurance company. Note, it is best to have your employer complete the Lost Wage Form after you sign and date it. The insurance company may want to interview your employer and confirm the information.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Sometimes the at-fault party’s insurance plan may not be adequate for recovering all your lost earnings or the insurance adjuster may not want to compensate you for the lost earnings. This is often the case as most auto insurance companies do not willingly pay lost wages, or they minimize the amount they want to pay for your lost wages. In that case, you should consult with an attorney at The Jewkes Firm to discuss filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. A qualified attorney can provide expertise in documenting lost wages and filing suit. Furthermore, they can help you collect the evidence required to prove the negligence of the other driver and help you get compensated for your lost earnings.
Proving Lost Earnings
Proving lost earnings can be difficult. An experienced attorney at The Jewkes Firm can help ease the process. When you are submitting a claim with your insurer or filing a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll be required to provide evidence that shows you missed work and you lost money because of your injuries. Documenting lost wages for self-employed workers or contractors (IRS 1099 tax forms) is more difficult than documenting lost wages for those workers classified as employees (W2 tax forms). Insurance adjusters almost always want to inspect your tax returns to compare how much you made prior to the injury. Apart from providing your tax returns, to properly document your lost wage claim you’ll need:
Medical records are essential to help you recover your lost earnings. Your medical records will show to the insurance company or court that your injury resulted from the accident and made you incapable of going to work.
Paystubs are helpful to determine the compensation you are entitled to. Provide your insurance company or the court your recent paystubs or W2 forms. This documentation will get trickier if you’re self-employed. Fortunately, in such cases, an attorney can help you figure out the compensation you are entitled to.
Calendar Missed Time from Work
One of the easiest ways to document lost earnings or lost earning capacity is to document or calendar days or hours that you could not work. This includes writing on a diary or calendar the days you missed work or noting doctor appointments and other events that force you to miss work because of the injury. While this alone is probably not sufficient to fully prove your lost wage claim, it is strong evidence to support your claim.
A Lost Wage Form is a document that you sign and your employer completes then signs and dates. The best person to complete these documents is often your direct supervisor or manager, payroll specialist, or human resource manager. It should be someone who has access to or directly documents your hours and earnings. A copy of a Lost Wage Form is seen below. Notice that it provides a place for hours missed, time of injury, hourly pay, and date the employee returned to full time.
Recovering your lost earnings or wages can be difficult, especially when you do not have an experienced attorney on your side. When you have to deal with insurance companies or the negligent driver to recover your lost wages, hire a car accident or personal injury attorney from The Jewkes Firm. You can call us at 770-771-5130. We are experienced in recovering lost wages for our clients.