How Are Lost Wages Calculated in Florida?
The damages caused by an accident or personal injury can be significant. In addition to your pain and suffering (non-economic damages), you will likely incur financial losses (economic damages). Lost wages are included in your claim for economic damages in a Florida personal injury case.
What Are Lost Wages in a Florida Personal Injury Claim?
Lost wages is the shorthand term often used to describe the loss of income after a personal injury or accident. It is the amount of money you could have earned had you not been injured by another party.
Lost wages can include, but are not limited to:
- Hourly wages
- Overtime pay
- Part-time income
- Self-employment income
- Freelance work
- Seasonal income
- Sick, personal, and vacation time used while recovering from your injuries and/or you would have earned had you been able to work
Including all wages you lost because of an injury or accident is crucial. You also need documentation of the income. Therefore, you should gather copies of your W2s, tax returns, pay stubs, income statements, 1099s, and other proof of income.
In some cases, you might need a letter from your employer stating how much work you missed and what you would have earned had you been at work. Likewise, you must have medical evidence proving that you could not work during that period to recover compensation for lost wages.
How Do You Calculate Lost Wages for a Personal Injury Claim in Jacksonville, FL?
Lost wages can be challenging to calculate depending on the type of income you earn.
For example, calculating the loss of income for salary employees can be straightforward. Suppose you earn $1,000 per week as a salaried employee.
Your injuries prevented you from returning to work for ten weeks. In that case, your lost wages would equal $10,000.
However, suppose you are an hourly employee. If you work 40 hours a week, your lost wages equal 40 x Hourly Rate x number of weeks missed from work. You could also calculate how much you make each day and multiply that figure times the number of days you missed.
Calculating lost wages becomes more complicated when any of the following situations apply:
- Overtime pay that fluctuates
- Tips, commissions, and bonuses
- Self-employed income
- Part-time income
- Ability to work but not at full capacity
In these cases, you may need to calculate the average earnings for six months to a year before the accident and use that figure to calculate lost wages.
Calculating Future Lost Wages and Diminished Earnings in Florida
If you sustain a disabling condition or permanent impairment that impacts future income, you can demand compensation for future lost wages. For example, a spinal cord injury causes complete paralysis, and your doctor states you will never be able to work again. In that case, you can demand compensation for all income you would have earned had you not sustained the spinal cord injury.
On the other hand, suppose the injury causes partial impairment. You might be able to work, but your income will not be as much as before the accident.
In that case, you could claim lost wages for diminished earning capacity. The value of a diminished earning capacity claim is the difference between what you would have earned had you not been injured and the amount of income you are anticipated to earn, given your impairment.
Calculating future lost wages and reductions in earning capacity can be very complicated. Generally, you need one or more experts to assist with estimating future losses. A Jacksonville personal injury lawyer might consult vocational experts, financial professionals, economists, and medical specialists.
Many factors are used to calculate the value of future lost wages, including:
- Your age now and your anticipated retirement age
- The level of your disability or impairment
- Your education, skills, training, and experience
- The type of work you can perform
- The anticipated rate of inflation
- The future outlook for growth in your career or job
- Your ability to learn a new skill or trade
An insurance company will fight lost wages claims that include future wages. They might hire their own experts to refute the opinions of your experts. The company has a strong incentive to fight future loss of income claims because total lost wages over a person’s lifetime could total millions of dollars.
Does Florida’s Comparative Fault Law Apply to Lost Wage Claims?
The principle of comparative fault applies in all Florida personal injury cases. The law allows a court to reduce a victim’s compensation for damages by their degree of fault for causing their injuries.
For instance, suppose a jury awards you $100,000 after a slip and fall accident. However, the jurors decided you were 20% to blame because you were texting while walking through the store.
In that case, you would receive $80,000 for damages instead of the total damages award. The amount is reduced by 20% for your portion of the blame for causing the accident.
Florida recently amended its contributory fault laws to add a 51% bar for recovery. Therefore, you are barred from receiving any money for your claim if you are more than 50% at fault for your injuries.
Insurance companies often use contributory fault to undervalue injury claims. Allowing an attorney to handle all communications with the insurance company can reduce the chance you might say something that could be misconstrued as admitting fault.
What Is the Deadline for Filing Lost Wage Claims in Florida?
If you file for lost wages against your PIP insurance policy, you must receive medical treatment within 14 days of the motor vehicle accident. You should check your insurance policy to determine the deadline for filing claims.
Claims for most personal injury cases, medical malpractice, and wrongful deaths must be filed within two years of the date of injury. However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that could change the date. Therefore, talking with a Jacksonville personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident or injury could protect your right to file a lawsuit if necessary.
Contact the Jacksonville Personal Injury Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170,
Jacksonville, FL 32202