Depending on the nature of your claim and the income you have lost as a result of the accident, having a qualified and experienced financial expert to support your claim may be necessary, especially if your case goes to trial. However, depending on your personal injury claim, locating and hiring physicians, vocational specialists, and economists can be useful to support claims of lost income.
Physicians should be considered critical in providing:
- Insight into the severity of your injuries
- The typical duration of your injury
- Your ability to work
- Life changes that your injuries may have caused
A vocational specialist will generally be pertinent when you suffer severe or catastrophic injuries. Vocational specialists are often used to illustrate the type of jobs that you were able to perform compared to what positions you are now able to perform considering your injuries. As you can imagine, this type of evidence is important when your injuries no longer allow you to work for your current employer or in your current profession or field. A vocational specialist can then use the information to support a claim for your wage differences before and after your accident.
Finally, an economist may also be helpful, especially if you are an entrepreneur or small-business owner. An economist will be able to provide insight into how much money your injuries could have caused you to lose in the past or what they may cause you to lose in the future. The economist will not only be able to calculate the extent of your losses, but also the losses to your business, which will be important in seeking complete and adequate compensation.
Claiming Lost Wages as an Employee
Claiming lost wages or income as an employee is significantly less complicated if you are employed hourly or salaried as opposed to being employed on a commission scale. The basis of an employee’s lost income involves being able to seek adequate compensation for lost wages, lost earning capacity, and even lost opportunities.
Claiming lost wages or income should be determined based on how you are paid, meaning hourly, salary, or commission.
Depending on your particular employment situation, you may also be able to claim:
- Lost bonuses
- Vacation pay
- Sick pay
- Missed promotions
It is important to understand that your current pay, regardless of how you were paid at the time of your accident, should be used as the basis for determining your lost wages and income. While financial records and documentation from your employer will be helpful in asserting a claim for lost wages, it may be helpful to also present statements from medical providers, personal physicians, or economists to help support your lost wage claim.
Claiming loss of opportunity as an employee may be difficult, as most lost employment opportunities are difficult to quantify and prove. For instance, as an employee, you must be able to use evidence to prove that a lost meeting or sales opportunity resulted in lost wages. However, because lost opportunities as an employee are often speculative, receiving compensation for them in your settlement or award can be tough and may require the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Claiming Lost Income as an Entrepreneur
Claiming losses to your income when you are an entrepreneur or small business owner can be exceptionally difficult. Generally, entrepreneurs and small business owners will need more detailed documentation to prove and support lost wage claims given the manner in which insurance companies and adjusters approach self-employed lost wage claims.
Depending on the facts and details of the individual case, an entrepreneur or small business owner may be able to claim:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost opportunity
Proving lost wages as an entrepreneur will take time and effort. For one, entrepreneurs and small business owners will typically need to provide more evidence to prove compensation and actual missed days of work, as one cannot simply go to an “employer” for the necessary information. Most successful claims for lost wages by entrepreneurs typically involve gathering financial statements, reports, and tax records. Additionally, entrepreneurs or businesses entering into contracts on a regular basis will likely need to produce lost contracts or invoices. Moreover, contracts or invoices proving work schedule, accounts receivable and accounts payable, and letters or testimonials from customers will all be essential in proving and supporting claims for lost income.
Any claim by a small business owner or entrepreneur for loss of earning capacity will likely require detailed documents and financial evidence in order to be successful. Not only will the proper documentation be necessary, but evidence and calculations by financial experts will also be exceptionally important in proving your claim. It is important to remember that claiming loss of earning capacity as an entrepreneur or business owner may entail showing and proving that your business will lose income in the future because of the injuries you sustained as a result of the car accident. Proving damages for loss of earning capacity as an entrepreneur may be difficult without appropriate documentation and evidence. Moreover, insurance companies have traditionally taken a skeptical position or outlook on all lost incomes claims by entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially when the claimant lacks sufficient documentation.
You may also have a claim for lost business opportunities as an entrepreneur. Lost business opportunities are generally difficult to prove, as they can be speculative. When you own your own business, lost opportunities generally arise when you lose potential clients or customers due to your injuries sustained in the accident. In order to prove your claim for lost business opportunities, you will need to provide evidence proving that “but for” your accident the customer or client would have hired you. In order to support your claim, you should include copies of your correspondence between the client or customer, proving how close you were to landing the opportunity. Moreover, letters from the potential customer or client confirming that they would have become a customer if not for you being injured would constitute even stronger evidence.
Can I Claim Lost Income Even If I Do Not Have a Job?
Generally speaking, it is possible to claim lost wages or income if you do not have a job. However, making a claim and successfully proving a claim for these types of lost wages are two very different issues. Further, successfully proving a claim for lost wages when you are between jobs will be exceptionally difficult.
In North Carolina, anyone who is injured in an accident due to the negligence of another is entitled to pursue losses to their income, whether they are employed or not. Given that everyone should have the right or choice to work, when that choice is taken away, the party responsible should have to pay damages. However, the concern rests in proving what those damages are. In most circumstances, establishing lost income or wages will come from proving that you have sustained a loss of earning capacity as a result of your accident.
Can I Claim Lost Wages When I Did Not Lose Any Pay?
Yes, in certain circumstances you may claim these types of losses. If you are injured in a car accident and miss work, but continue to be paid because you elect to use earned vacation or sick pay, you may be able to seek compensation for this loss. Generally, you are entitled to use your vacation or sick time when you so choose; therefore, a plausible argument can be made that you should be reimbursed for that lost time if you use it following an accident.