Are you unable to work because of a car accident in Clearwater, FL? If so, the lost income you incur because of the car wreck can be substantial. You may be entitled to reimbursement for lost wages after a car accident. If you’re unable to return to the same job, you could forfeit substantial wages over the course of your lifetime.
Car accidents result in considerable economic damages. In addition to lost wages, you have medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses to pay. Additionally, the pain and suffering you experience could be overwhelming.
A Clearwater car accident lawyer can help you file personal injury claims to recover lost wages.
What is Included in Lost Wages for a Car Accident Case?
Whether you file claims with insurance companies or through personal injury lawsuits, lost wages refer to the same thing. It is the income that you would have received had you not sustained an injury that prevents you from working.
Loss of income claims related to car crashes generally include amounts for:
- Hourly wages
- Overtime pay
- Self-employed income
In addition to income, loss of benefits is included in your claim. Benefits could include vacation days, sick days, retirement contributions, and other benefits related to income. Don’t underestimate the value of your losses when you’re forced to miss work after an accident.
Can I Recover Compensation for Future Loss of Income?
Yes, in most cases, you can receive compensation for future lost wages after a car accident if a permanent impairment or disability prevents you from returning to work. In some cases, an impairment may reduce your earning potential. If so, you can recover compensation for the difference between what you can earn now and what you could have earned had you not been injured in the car accident.
The amount you could receive for future lost wages and earning capacity depends on factors such as:
- Your current age and anticipate retirement age
- Anticipated inflation rate
- Your income before the accident
- Potential for career advancement
- Your experience, education, and skills
- Your career or job
- The extent of your injuries
A financial expert uses all relevant factors to estimate your future earnings. Then, we include that amount in the claim for loss of income.
Proving Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case
You have the burden of proving that the car accident injuries prevent you from working. You also must prove how much income was lost because of the car crash. Your legal team works with you to gather evidence proving your claim.
Evidence used to prove lost wages after a car accident includes:
- Medical records proving you sustained injuries from the car crash
- A statement from your physician explaining why your injuries prevent you from working
- Copies of pay stubs, tax returns, W2s, income statements, and other documents establishing your income before the accident
- A statement from your employer verifying your income and benefits and how much you were expected to earn had you returned to work after the car accident
- Evidence from expert witnesses establishing the value of a future loss of income claim
Many factors impact the value of a lost wages claim. The insurance company may hire experts to refute your claims. An experienced legal team understands how to fight against bad faith insurance tactics used to undervalue injury claims.
Filing a No-Fault Insurance Claim for Lost Wages in Florida
Because Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, drivers must have a minimum amount of PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance. All drivers must have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage.
After a car crash, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days to be eligible for PIP benefits. Even then, no-fault insurance benefits for loss of income are limited to 60 percent of your lost wages. Therefore, you do not receive reimbursement for all income you lost after a car crash.
Furthermore, your PIP insurance is limited to the policy limits. If you have minimum coverage, the most you could receive is $10,000. The coverage also includes up to 80 percent for your medical bills. However, your loss of income and medical bills combined cannot exceed your maximum insurance coverage.
Even though PIP is no-fault insurance, you must prove that the injuries sustained in the car accident prevented you from working. You must also provide evidence of how much you would have earned had you been able to work.
Therefore, no-fault insurance is not a guaranteed payout. You may need help from a car accident attorney if your PIP insurance provider denies your claim or refuses to pay the correct amount for a lost wages claim.
Filing a Negligence Claim Against the At-Fault Driver for Lost Wages
If the other driver caused the car crash, that driver could be liable for your lost wages. Under Florida law, if you sustain serious injuries because of a car accident, you may be able to pursue a negligence claim against the at-fault driver.
Serious injury is defined by statute as:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Disfigurement or scarring that is significant and permanent
- An injury that has a reasonable chance of causing permanent impairment
If the at-fault driver has liability car insurance, the insurance company is generally liable for your claim. However, if the person is uninsured, you would need to file a lawsuit seeking damages. You might also file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company for lost wages.
You have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the crash, the crash resulted in your injuries, and you sustained damages because of the crash. As with the loss of income claims, you must also prove the amount of wages you lost because of the car accident injuries.
Florida’s Modified Comparative Fault Laws and Claims for Lost Wages After a Car Accident
Florida’s modified comparative fault laws apply if you file an uninsured motorist claim or a liability claim against the other driver. If you were partially to blame for the cause of the car wreck, you are not entitled to compensation for all damages. And if you were mostly to blame, you’d be barred from recovering any compensation at all.
The amount you receive for your lost wages is adjusted based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 30 percent at fault for the cause of the car accident, you can only receive 70 percent of your lost wages. Being blamed for an accident can significantly impact the compensation you receive. Contact a reputable Clearwater car accident attorney to discuss defenses to contributory fault claims. Insurance companies like to raise this issue to avoid paying claims, but that does not mean their allegations have merit.