If you cannot work after suffering an injury, the damage is two-fold. First, you are faced with medical expenses. Second, your ability to pay them is reduced by your lost wages. Your best course of action is to exercise your right to pursue damages from the liable party, including lost wages. A personal injury attorney in Houston, TX can help you get the most out of your compensation.
Can Lawyers Help Me Recover Lost Wages Due to Personal Injury?
Yes. Personal injury law is an area of practice that specializes in helping injured people recover their damages, including lost wages. To receive compensation, injured parties usually submit an insurance claim that is resolved in a settlement offer. You can also take the liable party to court if necessary.
Your lawyer will help you gather evidence of your injuries and the impact the accident had on your life. With the right legal guidance, you can feel confident going forward with strong arguments that adhere to legal protocols. When presented in a convincing way, injury cases can yield thousands of dollars. They can even be worth millions when the injuries are severe.
What Are Lost Wages?
The term “lost wages” refers to any income you miss out on while you are recovering from an accident. A skilled attorney will look into all your sources of income, possibly pointing out some damages you would have missed on your own.
Your Salary or Hourly Pay
Whether you missed a few days of work or had to take a longer period of time for recovery, you are entitled to compensation for the wages you would have received if not for your injury. If you work for an hourly rate, your lost wages can be calculated by simply multiplying that rate by the number of hours you missed. If you are a salaried worker, your salary will be converted into an hourly rate.
Overtime, Bonuses, and Promotions
A skilled lawyer will look beyond your rate of pay when determining your lost wages. The final calculations will include:
- Opportunities to work overtime
- Bonuses you could have received
- Promotions you were eligible for before the accident
Benefits such as 401K contributions, paid sick days, vacation time, and health insurance policies are also factored into your lost wages. Your lawyer will help determine their value and include them in the claim.
Part-time work is treated the same as full-time employment when calculating lost wages. If you have multiple jobs, your claim should account for all of them. Your part-time work might even include having a side hustle or working mother’s hours.
Gig work often factors into the calculations for self-employed people. If you are self-employed, you have the same right to claim lost wages as folks who work a 9-5 job. Your claim should factor in any regular or ad-hoc work you missed out on, including jobs you had to cancel and ones that you were not able to pursue in your pipeline.
What If I Cannot Go Back to Work?
Reduced Earning Capacity
Severe injuries can have a devastating effect on your career, especially if your job has high physical demands. If you are obligated to take on a less demanding occupation with lower wages, or if you are forced to limit the number of hours you work, you can claim “reduced earning capacity.”
Lost Earning Capacity
“Total disability” or “lost earning capacity” are terms that refer to the inability to ever resume work of any kind. These terms usually apply in the case of spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and blindness.
Claiming Reduced or Lost Earning Capacity
If you have suffered career-altering injuries, you have the potential to win a big lawsuit, but you will need to argue an especially strong case. From the perspective of an insurance company, covering a temporary recovery period is one thing, but compensating for a lifetime of lost wages is another. You will want to work with a lawyer who can anticipate the defense’s counter-arguments and convey your case beyond a doubt.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Recover Lost Wages?
Lawyers handle a variety of accidents, including premises liability, work-related accidents, and motor vehicle crashes. To submit a personal injury claim successfully, you will need to prove that you have grounds for compensation. Your lawyer can help you develop a case that meets the following required criteria:
Breach of Duty of Care
“Duty of care” refers to the fact that by law, people are responsible for taking reasonable actions to ensure the safety of others. To breach one’s duty of care means to act negligently. A driver who fails to stop at a red light commits a breach of duty of care on road. Likewise, an employer is negligent if he or she fails to dry off a wet surface and an employee slips.
In the context of an injury, your lawyer should help you show that there was a direct causal link between the liable party’s negligent actions and your injury. In other words, your case must demonstrate that your injury would not have occurred if the other person had been more careful. Your lawyer can help you prepare for the counter-argument that your injury was inevitable.
In legal terms, your damages are your losses. In addition to lost wages, you can claim:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
To win compensation, your case needs to be built in a way that shows how the accident was detrimental to your life. When claiming lost wages, you will need to show how much work you missed and what your rate of pay would have been.
Proving Lost Wages
Documenting the Time You Missed
One of the most important functions of your lawyer is to compile evidence that is legally acceptable. To show that your injuries caused you to miss work, he or she will probably suggest that you get a note from your doctor stating your need to rest and a letter from your employer noting your pay rate.
Verifying Your Normal Income
Your lawyer will also probably instruct you to submit your most recent tax returns and your pay stubs. If you are self-employed, he or she may request to review your accounting records for evidence of your normal income.
Projecting Future Wages
If you are claiming reduced or lost earning capacity, you will need to come up with a reasonable estimate of how much money you would have earned over the course of your career. You and your lawyer can present evidence of your current wages, along with market projections relevant to your area of employment. Sometimes, your lawyer might bring in a professional accountant or an economist to testify in court on your behalf.
Get Legal Help With Lost Wages in Houston, TX
Getting the financial compensation you deserve is a crucial aspect of your recovery. Recovering your lost wages and medical expenses means walking away with a feeling of closure and better control over your finances. A skilled attorney is your greatest asset when going up against an insurance company. To get in touch with a knowledgeable attorney in Houston, TX, contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, today!