Car accidents can cause major injuries. When they do, they will lead to a significant amount of personal financial losses. One of the hardest to deal with is the loss of work income while you heal at home or in the hospital. Insurance companies and West Palm Beach car accident lawyers refer to these income losses as “lost wages.”
Getting the Wages You’re Owed
Claiming lost wages is rarely easy and straightforward. You have to provide proof of past income and proof that you have lost the claimed amount. For jobs that don’t involve a steady paycheck, like contracting work, documenting your income and your losses can be tough.
You can use the following information to answer general questions about how to claim lost wages. If you have any specific questions about your case or want legal guidance from an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer, contact Steinger, Green & Feiner today at (561) 566-5021 to schedule a free consultation.
What Counts as Lost Wages?
“Lost wages” refers to any loss of income that directly resulting from a car accident. Typically, this means that someone who gets paid per-hour, per-job, per-shift, or on commission will receive money to make up for the income they can’t earn while they are recovering from their accident. Any rate of pay is referred to as a “wage.”
People on salary who have sick leave and other forms of paid time off can still potentially file for lost wages or lost benefits after their accident.
Insurers only reimburse lost wages for claimants whose losses directly resulted from the car accident. This can sometimes include situations where a person had a previous injury or an existing condition that was made worse by the accident.
Who Pays for Lost Wages After a West Palm Beach Car Accident?
In Florida, car accident victims can claim 60% of lost wages up to a limit of $10,000 from their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy, which is mandatory for all registered vehicles.
If the injury victim is seriously hurt and they suspect someone else is at fault for the accident, they have the option to pursue compensation. In these cases, they’ll use the at-fault driver’s third-party bodily injury liability (BIL) policy.
Anyone who has a serious injury or more than $10,000 in financial losses after an accident should strongly consider weighing their options for filing under any BIL policy available. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can assist you with identifying at-fault parties and using any available liability insurance to seek the maximum compensation.
If you were hurt on the job, you may also be able to claim partial lost wages under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
What Is Needed to Claim Lost Wages?
There are two main things that you have to prove when you want to claim lost wages:
- You’re too hurt to work
- You have a net difference in your income since you got hurt
Proving that you’re too hurt to work requires a doctor’s opinion. Your doctor can write a doctor’s narrative describing your injuries and the difficulties they cause for normal activities. The narrative will also describe their recommendation for how long you should miss work and other activities to fully heal with minimal complications.
To document that you have lower income now than before, you need to start with proof of income for what you would normally make.
Employees who work a regular amount of hours and receive nearly identical paychecks every pay period can simply provide their pay stubs.
Employees who have irregular shifts will need to find around six months’ worth of pay stubs and average them together.
Some employees have irregular work and no official pay stub. If they are a contract employee for a plumber, for instance, they may only get paid when they work. Some employees also earn sales commissions, regular overtime, perks, and other sorts of benefits that can be hard to describe in a few simple slips of paper.
In these instances, it can be best to assemble every form of pay documentation you have. You can also use bank statements to show how much and how often money typically hits your account. You may need a letter from your employer, general contractor, and/or freelancing clients to back up your statements.
A car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach can assist you with getting all of these documents and using them to file a strong claim seeking compensation for every penny of wages you have lost.
Factors That May Impact Lost Wages Calculation in West Palm Beach
Sometimes, the job market you work in can affect your ability to claim lost wages. For example, an insurance company may look up the median income for a worker in West Palm Beach in your field. If your income is significantly above this median, then they may ask for more proof than usual.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in West Palm Beach City is $51,635 dollars. This number means that just as many people make more than $51,635 as there are people who make less. The per capita (per person) income in West Palm Beach is $32,502 per year. However, 17.5% of West Palm Beach technically lives in poverty.
Facts like these can affect your ability to claim lost wages, especially if your income falls above these levels. Working with a car accident attorney in West Palm Beach can help you anticipate obstacles and draw up the necessary paperwork to make a strong lost wages claim.
Get Help Filing a Lost Wages Claim from a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Filing a lost wages claim can be confusing, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. You can hire a car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach who can help you calculate your lost wages, document them, and file a claim with insurers. If the insurance companies want to argue about how much you are asking for, then your attorney can appeal or negotiate on your behalf.
If you cannot reach a reasonable settlement offer, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the insurance company and take the case to court. Steinger, Greene & Feiner have a history of winning millions for clients in settlements and court verdicts. Best of all, we never charge you anything unless we can recover money for you.
Start the process of filing a lost wages claim today when you call (561) 566-5021 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.