If you were injured in a car accident in Florida, you might receive reimbursement for the various economic losses you suffered, including lost wages.
Your own insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance may pay for this reimbursement. However, calculating the full extent of this portion of your damages and proving your right to compensation may be difficult.
Our experienced car accident lawyers can walk you through the process of preparing a wage-loss claim.
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What Are Lost Wages?
Lost wages represent the money you lost due to missing work because of the injuries you sustained in the car accident. Lost wages represent the difference between what you would have earned if you had not been injured and what you did earn while you were recovering.
If you were injured in a car accident, you might be unable to return to work for days, weeks, or months. You can pursue a wage loss claim to receive reimbursement for the wages you lost while you were recovering.
The right to pursue lost wages applies to all types of workers, including:
- Full-time employees
- Salaried employees
- Part-time employees
- Seasonal employees
- Hourly employees
- Independent contractors
- Self-employed individuals
In addition to the normal hourly or salary rate, lost wages also consist of:
- Overtime pay
- Sick, personal time off, or vacation days you use while recovering from your injuries
These irregular payments should be included in your lost wages claim as they indicate the full extent of the lost income you suffered because of the accident.
Car Accident Victims’ Right to Compensation for Lost Wages
If you were injured in a car accident, Florida personal injury law allows you to seek reimbursement for the economic damages you suffered, which may include lost wages. Specifically, Florida Statute 627.736 states that you can recover 60% of your lost wages from your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
If another driver’s carelessness caused the accident, you could collect the other 40% against them or their insurance company if your injuries meet Florida’s “serious injury” threshold.
In addition to lost wages, Florida law also allows you to recover compensation for the lost services you were not able to perform due to your injuries, such as cooking, cleaning, and transportation. A personal injury lawyer can help you compile evidence to show the losses you suffered.
Who Pays for Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. This means that drivers turn to their own insurance for coverage after an accident. All drivers are required to maintain PIP insurance of at least $10,000 for medical expenses, lost wages, or other losses they suffer in an accident.
PIP insurance pays for 60% of lost wages, up to the policy limit. If you suffer more than $10,000 in losses, you can seek the remainder of your losses from your own insurance coverage or the at-fault driver’s insurance, depending on the available insurance and the nature of your injuries.
For example, if another party was negligent and caused the accident, resulting in a “serious injury,” you could file a claim against their liability bodily injury coverage. If the other driver was uninsured, you could file a claim with your own insurance company under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
How Lost Wages Are Calculated
Lost wages are calculated differently, depending on the way you are paid. Here are some common examples:
Your lost wages as an hourly employee are calculated by multiplying your hours of missed work by your hourly rate. For example, if you normally work 40 hours a week, missed six weeks of work, and received $20 per hour, your lost wages would be calculated as:
40 * 6 * $20 = $4,800
If you are paid a salary, your lost wages are calculated by dividing your annual salary by 2,080, or roughly the number of hours you would work yearly. For example, if your annual salary is $60,000, your lost wages would be calculated as:
$60,000/2080 = $28.84
This number represents your hourly wage which you would then multiply by the number of hours lost, as calculated in the previous example.
Remember that these calculations are just for your lost base pay. If you lost tips, commissions, bonuses, etc., you would add in those figures. Also, you would add the value of any sick, PTO, or vacation benefits you used.
If you are self-employed, you still have the same right to be reimbursed for your lost wages just as a salaried or hourly employee would. However, it may be more challenging to prove your lost wages. You may need to provide more documentation and details regarding your lost pay than regular employees. For example, you may need to provide the following documentation to support your lost wages claim:
- Previous tax returns
- Quarterly tax payments
- 1099 forms
- Business records
- Business bank account statements
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help identify the documentation that can help you prove your claim.
How to Prove Lost Wages
Before you can recover reimbursement for lost wages, you must be able to document the amount of your losses. The following evidence can help support your claim for lost wages:
- A letter from your employer
- Benefit statements
- Tax returns
- Wage verification documentation
- Doctor’s note that states how long you need to miss work
A personal injury lawyer can advise you about the documentation you need to establish your claim.
Loss of Future Earnings
In addition to the lost wages you have already incurred, you also have the right in Florida to seek compensation for the loss of future earnings you could have received had you not been injured.
For example, you could seek compensation for the loss or reduction of your earning capacity in the following situations:
- You were permanently disabled from the accident, and you can no longer work any type of job.
- Your injuries make you unable to perform the same type of job you had before the accident, so you get a less demanding, lower-paying job.
- Your injuries require you to work fewer hours, and your pay is reduced as a result.
The amount of your lost future earnings is equal to the difference between the earnings you would have made had you not been injured and the earnings you are projected to make now in light of your injuries.
These damages are difficult to prove. An expert witness may be necessary. A personal injury lawyer can help you seek the full compensation you are entitled to for lost wages and connect you with economic experts to support your claim.