Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is stressful. You may face expensive medical bills and significant recovery time depending on your injuries. But if you are in an accident and unable to work for weeks or months, you’re likely wondering how to pay those bills and cover the rest of your costs. In Florida, if you suffer injury due to someone else’s actions, you have the right to seek damages for your losses. This includes compensation for past and future lost wages. Read on to learn how to recover lost wages after a personal injury in Florida and what you need to prove your claim.
What Are Lost Wages?
Put simply, lost wages is a shorthand term that describes the loss of income after an accident or personal injury. It is the amount of money the injured party could have earned had they not been injured by another. To recoup these lost earnings, you can file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy, negotiate a settlement, or file a lawsuit.
How Are Lost Wages Calculated?
If you must miss work due to a personal injury, you can receive compensation for work-related income losses. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Hourly wages,
- Freelance or gig compensation,
- Self-employment wages,
- Part-time wages,
- Sick leave,
- Personal leave,
- Vacation time, and
- Other work-related compensation benefits.
Including all wages you lost because of an injury or accident is crucial.
How Do You Prove Lost Wages?
Recovering lost wages requires the right evidence. You need documentation to prove your losses, which is tricky when you have to calculate lost financial opportunities. This includes:
- Medical documentation. Keep all records of your injuries as well as any procedures and treatment, along with a doctor’s note explaining your condition and inability to work.
- Employment documentation. This includes pay stubs, tax returns, and letters from employers detailing job requirements, hours, and pay rates. Being self-employed does not bar recovery, but you might need additional documentation to prove your losses.
- Testimony and witness statements. This may include statements from coworkers or clients attesting to your injuries and inability to work.
You might also need other evidence depending on the circumstances of your case. Talk to a Florida personal injury attorney if you have questions about proving lost wages.
Calculating Future Lost Earnings
Many personal injury victims wait until they are nearly fully recovered before they file a claim. Unfortunately, some victims will never fully recover and may wait until the claim’s statute of limitations has nearly run, limiting or even barring recovery. This is why the best move is to speak with a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible to estimate your future lost earnings and reduce that to their present value. Your attorney can help you determine the best time to file your lawsuit and ensure that you do so on time. Don’t wait to see if you’ll need the funds: once you do, it might be too late.
Lost Wages and Motor Vehicle Insurance
Recovering wages after an accident is a little different when your injuries were caused by a motor vehicle collision. Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, which means all drivers have to carry a minimum amount of insurance to cover their own losses if they’re in a car accident. Your no-fault insurance policy must pay 60% of your lost income and earning capacity up to the policy limits. Depending on the injuries you sustained, you may be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover additional compensation.
Lost Wages Versus Loss of Earning Capacity?
Although the two terms sound similar, they refer to two completely different categories of personal injury damages. Lost wages are designed to compensate a victim for actual work time lost from the time they’re injured to the time the case is resolved. Lost wages don’t look into the future, unlike loss of earning capacity. Instead, they’re calculated on what you lost in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
Loss of earning capacity compensates the victim for what they’ll lose in the long term if a permanent impairment adversely affects their future earning potential. These damages are calculated as the difference between what you would have earned had you not been injured and the amount of money you can earn now with your impairments. Calculating either future lost wages or reductions in earning capacity can be very complicated, so seek legal help as soon as possible.
What Is the Deadline to File a Lost Wages Claim in Florida?
If you file for lost wages with your own insurance company after a car accident, you must receive medical treatment within 14 days. Check your policy language to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. Claims for most personal injury cases in Florida have a two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations dictates the time an accident victim has to initiate legal action. However, there may be an applicable exception to the statute of limitations that could change the date. If you have any concerns, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident or injury. They can explain and protect your right to file a lawsuit if necessary.
If you have any questions about how to recover lost wages after a personal injury, the team at James Horne Law, PA, is here to help. We treat every client as an individual, not a file number, and provide each the personal attention they deserve. With years of experience and millions of dollars earned on behalf of our clients, no case is too complex. We take on every challenge and thrive in high-pressure environments. No matter the situation, we will fight to get each client the full compensation they need to recover and get their life back on track. To schedule a consultation, give our office a call, or fill out our online contact form to get started today!