Suffering severe injuries in an auto accident is a stressful event that can lead to mounting medical expenses, emotional distress, and even the inability to work. Because Florida is a no-fault state, you first must go to your own insurance to compensate you for medical bills and lost wages. But if you are seriously injured, this coverage can run out quickly. Then, Florida law allows you to seek compensation for your additional losses, including lost wages from a car accident.
Lost wages are your earnings missed due to car accident injuries preventing you from working. A lost wages claim also includes compensation for the time you miss from work for doctor appointments, physical therapy, diagnostic exams, etc. Read on to learn more about calculating a loss of earnings claim in Florida as part of your personal injury case.
Calculating Lost Wages from a Car Accident
Calculating your loss of earnings will vary depending on your employment situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when calculating your lost wages.
For hourly workers, multiply missed hours by your hourly wage. Salaried workers should divide their yearly salary by annual work hours (usually 2080 hours, which is 40 hours x 52 weeks) and multiply the result by missed hours. Using sick leave or vacation days doesn’t affect the calculation.
Proving lost wages for self-employed individuals is more complex, as it may involve lost clients and opportunities. You might have tangible and intangible costs that must factor into your calculations. Hiring an experienced Florida car accident attorney is crucial in this situation. Otherwise, you might miss out on demanding the compensation you’re entitled to as a self-employed person.
In addition to your base salary, you might have missed out on other benefits, such as health insurance, retirement contributions, and paid time off. To calculate the value of these benefits, you can consult your employer’s benefits package or use industry-standard percentages. Talk to your attorney about calculating these lost benefits.
Lost Earning Potential
Lost earning potential is more challenging to calculate than lost wages. Lost earning potential refers to lost raises, promotions, company bonuses, etc., that you might have received if not for the accident. These claims often require expert witnesses to testify.
Workers’ Compensation or Disability
Those with disabilities from car accidents may qualify for workers’ compensation insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Check SSDI requirements and consult a car accident lawyer in Florida to discuss your case.
Who Pays for Lost Wages in a Car Accident Claim?
Who pays for your lost wages depends on key details, including who was at fault for the accident. As previously stated, Florida is a no-fault state. That means you usually file a PIP claim with your own insurance carrier, regardless of who caused the accident. However, you could file a claim against a third party in cases involving liable third parties. And if your injuries are severe enough to deplete your PIP coverage before paying for all of your losses, you could file a lawsuit against the liable party. This lawsuit would demand that the liable party’s insurance pay for your additional expenses, including lost wages.
How to Claim Lost Wages from a Car Accident
Before you can collect compensation for your lost wages, you must prove your damages. To prove lost wages, gather documentation such as a wage verification form from your employer, pay stubs or records, tax returns, and medical records. In addition, you must show that your damages resulted from the defendant’s actions, such as negligence. Proving liability in a car accident is directly linked to your ability to collect compensation for a lost wages claim.
Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence system. This means that if you were partially at fault for the accident, your compensation for lost wages would be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds you 30% at fault for the accident, you would only receive 70% of your damages. Be sure to factor in your percentage of negligence when calculating a loss of earnings claim.
The other driver’s insurance company adjuster will allege that your percentage of liability is higher. The more fault they can attribute to you, the more money they save for the company. That’s why you need an experienced Florida car accident lawyer representing you.
How Long Does It Take to Get Lost Wages from a Car Accident?
The amount of time it takes to receive payment will also vary. Some claims might resolve in six months, while others take two years. Once you settle the auto accident claim, payment may be fast. Lost wages are usually paid together with bodily injury and pain and suffering settlements.
If an attorney represents you, the other driver’s insurance company will send the check to your lawyer. Your lawyer will deposit in a trust account, pay any outstanding bills, liens, and court costs, and then they will deduct their attorney’s fees. Finally, your lawyer will cut you a check for the remainder.
Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Calculating a loss of earnings claim in Florida can be complex, especially when determining future lost wages and the potential impact of contributory negligence. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney helps ensure you’re demanding the compensation you deserve.
When you hire Nonni Homola, you benefit from our extensive legal experience representing car accident victims. We know what it takes to build a successful lost wages claim in Florida. Contact our office online or call (850) 601-1111 today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.