How To Collect Lost Wages After a Virginia Car Wreck
By John Cooper, Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney
Imagine you are hit by another driver and are injured in a car wreck and face a long time off work. You will likely lose wages and wonder how you can feed your family going forward. The issue of lost wages is one of the most common things we face as Virginia auto accident lawyers.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers we help clients with all aspects of their personal injury losses arising from a car accident that's not their fault. Often clients have no idea what to do after a Virginia car wreck. Lost wages are a significant part of the damages that occur when a person is injured in a car, truck or motorcycle collision.
The basic way that we handle lost wages is to send form to the employer for our client asking the employer to put in writing what time the injured person has missed from work and how much money they've lost. Usually most employers are very cooperative in this situation and if necessary we can help explain to them what we're looking for and why we need it.
As your personal injury lawyers we always want to make things as convenient for you as possible, knowing that you have your hands full just trying to get your life back together and to recover from your injuries. So we will be happy to send the lost wage form directly to the personnel department or other appropriate person at work for you. If you would rather hand it to them yourself, we'll give you the form with a return envelope to get it back to us.
The main reason for the form is that the insurance companies will not pay what they should for lost wages without some documentation. The idea is to have somebody other than the attorney or the client verifying that the lost wages occurred. In a perfect world, we'd even have the slips from your doctor where the doctor tells you to stay off work for a certain period. The idea is to make it clear to the insurance company what days were missed, what the normal pay would be and what happened.
In addition, to the dollars lost if you have to use up sick time or leave time that you had on the books as a result of missing time from your injury or to go to the doctor or to be cured of your injury we're entitled to get that back for you as well.
This is easiest in the context of a salaried or hourly employee working with a company that is used to filling out such forms. If it's a smaller company, it may be just as easy, but it may not be something they have to deal with often.
Claiming Lost Wages if You Are Self-Employed
The bigger problem is when the lost wages are harder to calculate and prove like a commissioned real estate agent or a self-employed construction contractor.
If you're self-employed or work on a commission basis, we normally look to prove your lost wages by getting proof of past earnings and show a decrease in those earnings. The simplest way to prove lost wages for a self-employed worker is often to get two years of past tax returns and compare it to the tax return for the year of the injury and show that there was a decrease in earning. This doesn't always work and isn't always a fair reflection of the losses but is a starting point.
With more serious injuries that go on for years or involve permanent or catastrophic injuries there's the additional question of proving not just past lost wages but proving future earnings losses. This sometimes requires the work of a vocational expert and/or an economist.
Typically, the idea is to show that either you lost a well-paying job that you won't be able to replace or that you lost access to certain kinds of jobs because of the physical or other limitations that you have as a result of the injuries from the truck wreck or other event. These cases are part of what I have lots of experience doing including having represented railroad workers who suffer high lost wages when they get hurt on the job.
If you have lost wages due to the fault of another party, call our attorneys for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we only receive a fee if we secure money for you.