Suing for Lost Wages Due to Injury? What You Need to Know
If you've been injured in an accident, you know that medical bills aren't the only expense that you have to worry about while you're recovering from your injury. All of your regular bills continue to stack up as well, and it can be tough to pay them if you can't work because of your injury. This is why it's important to include lost wages in any personal injury lawsuit that you bring to receive compensation for your injuries. Take a look at what you need to know about seeking compensation for lost wages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Lost Wages and the Damages Formula
Calculating compensation in a personal injury lawsuit can seem complicated. That's because of the damages formula used to figure out how much you'll receive for pain and suffering, emotional damages, and permanent disability. If you're not familiar with the formula, the mathematical method of determining how much your injury is worth can seem strange. However, lost wages are much more straightforward. You simply total up the amount of wages that you lost and add that number to the rest of the damages—no complicated math required.
Take a look at an example. The usual practice for determining damages is to multiply the cost of your medical bills by a multiplier between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. So if you had $1000 in medical expenses, and the severity of your injuries warranted a multiplier of 3, you would be looking at receiving $3000 in damages. If you also lost $500 in wages, you would just add the $500 to the $3000, for a total of $3500 in damages. Of course, that number may be negotiated up or down as you try to work out a settlement with the insurance company, but that's how you arrive at a starting point.
Paid Time Off and Lost Opportunities
If you're lucky enough to have paid time off saved up at your job, using them can help lessen the immediate impact of missing work. Since it can take time to reach a settlement with the insurance company or reach your court date when you file a lawsuit, you'll probably end up using your paid time off to keep yourself afloat. That may not seem like lost wages, since you were paid for that time, but you can still include the days that you received vacation or sick pay for in your lost wages claim. After all, you were forced to use that paid time off for your injury, instead of taking a family vacation or calling in sick when you had the flu. That time is still lost, and you're still entitles to compensation.
You can also include lost opportunities in your claim. For example, if you were being considered for a promotion, but your supervisors had to fill the slot with someone else before you were done recovering from your injury, you could claim that the injury caused you to lose benefits or a raise that you would have gotten with the promotion. Or if your injury prevented you from taking a meeting that could have landed a big client for your company and gotten you a bonus, you can include that loss in your claim.
Of course, documenting a lost opportunity is more difficult than documenting lost hours at work. After all, it's always possible that you wouldn't have gotten the promotion anyway. But it's worth including that loss, along with any proof you have, in your claim anyway. A valid lost opportunity claim helps raise the value of your lawsuit and can help you negotiate a better settlement.
Lost wages are an important part of your personal injury claim. Ask your personal injury attorney how to document your lost time at work and any lost opportunities, so that you can be properly compensated for your lost wages.