Many accident victims are unable to work following a car accident. As a result, they incur a substantial loss of income because of the car crash injuries. Fortunately, Texas tort laws provide a legal basis for being reimbursed for lost wages after a car accident.
Including Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Claim
Loss of income is a type of economic damage. Car accident victims can recover compensation for lost wages by filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic damages are a type of compensatory damage. They “compensate” the accident victim for monetary losses related to the crash, their injuries, and their recovery period. Therefore, if you cannot work because of injuries sustained in a car accident, you can recover lost wages from the at-fault driver.
A lost income claim covers all forms of income that the person could have received if they had not been injured. Examples of lost wages after a car accident include:
- Salaries and hourly wages for the lost time at work during your recovery
- Commission and bonuses you could have earned
- Paid time off that would have accumulated
- Overtime pay that you would have earned
- Sick days and vacation time that would have accrued had you been able to work
- Income from self-employment, contract work, freelance work, and second jobs
- Salary increases, merit raises, and other increases in wages that were scheduled, but you did not receive because you were out of work
- Contributions to retirement accounts that you would have received
Insurance companies challenge claims for lost wages in numerous ways. The company might allege that you exaggerated your injuries to stay out of work. The company might claim that you would not have earned the alleged income even had you been able to work.
Before you file a claim for lost wages, talk with our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers about how we can help you gather evidence to prove you are entitled to maximum compensation for a loss of income claim.
How Do You Prove Lost Wages After a Fort Worth Car Accident?
Texas is an at-fault state for car accident cases. Therefore, you must prove negligence before you can hold another driver liable for damages. The first step in receiving reimbursement for lost wages is to prove the elements of a negligence claim:
- The other motorist owed you a legal duty of care
- The motorist breached the duty of care by their actions or failure to act
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of the car accident
- You sustained injuries and damages because of the breach of duty
Damages include economic and non-economic damages. Therefore, you can claim a loss of income for a car accident.
After proving negligence, you must prove that you had a valid medical reason for not working. Medical records, statements from doctors, and opinions from medical specialists are used to prove that the car accident injuries prevented you from returning to work or required you to work with various restrictions.
The final hurdle is to prove how much you would have earned had it not been for the car accident. Proof of employment, income, and benefits can be established by providing copies of your:
- Tax returns and W-2s
- Bonus and commission statements
- Profit-and-loss statements from self-employment
- Retirement contributions
- Company policy regarding sick time, vacation time, and PTO benefits
In addition to copies of the above documents, your employer can provide a letter explaining the amount of money you would have earned had you worked after the car crash.
Calculating lost wages when you earn a salary is more straightforward than calculating the loss from overtime, commissions, bonuses, self-employment, and other income types. A car accident lawyer may retain a financial professional to analyze the data and provide detailed reports explaining the amount of lost income caused by the car accident.
Filing a Claim for Loss of Earning Capacity After a Car Accident
Individuals who sustain permanent impairment or disability because of a car accident might not be able to earn the level of income they earned before the accident. Sometimes, an injured person might be unable to return to any type of work after a car accident.
In addition to past lost wages, you could also be entitled to compensation for future lost wages and diminished earning potential if you suffered a permanent injury.
However, proving the value of diminished earning capacity and future lost wages can be challenging. It is difficult to know how much you could have earned because other factors could impact your ability to earn money.
Generally, claims for future loss of income require analysis and opinions from expert witnesses. A financial expert considers numerous factors when calculating the value of future loss of income. Those factors include:
- The type and severity of your injury
- Your career, education, experience, and skills
- Your past earning history
- The anticipated number of years before your retirement based on your current age
- Your overall health and life expectancy
- The ability to learn a new trade or skill you could perform with the impairment
- The overall outlook for your job or career
- Whether you can perform any activity to earn income
Insurance companies aggressively fight claims for future lost wages. The loss could total millions of dollars over a person’s lifetime. Therefore, it is essential to work with an experienced Fort Worth accident lawyer who understands the evidence you need to prove how much income you could have earned had it not been for another driver’s reckless and negligent acts.
Contributory Fault and Lost Wage Claims After a Car Accident
Contributory fault is a legal theory that reduces a person’s compensation for damages by the percentage of their fault for causing their injuries. Texas has adopted a modified contributory fault law.
Texas Civil Statute §33.001 states that a person cannot recover compensation for damages if their percentage of responsibility for the accident is greater than 50 percent.
However, you can recover some of your damages if your fault is 50 percent or below. For example, if a jury finds you were 25% at fault for the car accident, you could still recover 75% of the value of your lost wages and other damages.
Insurance companies use contributory fault to avoid paying claims. Before talking to an insurance adjuster or making any statements, seek legal advice to protect your right to full reimbursement of all damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Fort Worth Car Accident Lawyers
Loss of income after a car accident can total thousands of dollars. You deserve compensation for all of your lost wages. Contact our law firm Anderson Injury Lawyers at (817) 294-1900 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Fort Worth injury attorneys.