ClickCease Lost Wages From a Car Accident | How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

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Compensation for Lost Wages in a California Car Crash

What Do You Need to Win Compensation for Lost Wages Due to Car Accident Injuries?

Lost wages for car accident injuries primarily cover the money you would have normally gotten from work if you weren’t injured in an accident. These are essentially the wages you are unable to earn due to your injury.

For example, say that you got into a vehicle collision and sustained severe injuries resulting in a broken leg. You are unable to work for 3 months until you recover enough to return to work.

During that 3 month absence, you are not receiving the money you would have if you never got into that accident. However, you are entitled to 3 months’ worth of wages if your car insurance policy decides to cover those lost wages. Lost income may include:

  • Lost wages for the amount of time you did not work.
  • Lost earning capacity if you suffered a long-term disability from the collision and are not able to make the amount of money you previously did before the incident occured.
  • Lost opportunities, as in losing the chance of going to a job interview because you are injured.

Necessary Attributes to File a Wage Loss Claim

These are the coverage types that are essential to use when trying to collect lost wages:

  • Liability Bodily Injury Coverage. If you suffered injuries in a car accident because of the other driver’s negligence, you are permitted to submit a lost wages claim through the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If you get into an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or has poor coverage, you are able to collect lost wages under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage. Requirement for no-fault states and optional in a few others. PIP pays for injuries you suffered from an accident and lost wages up to your policy’s limits, without regard to fault.

Document Lost Wages 

Once you confirm that your policy covers lost wages, it is required for you to get your documentation together in order to file a claim. The paperwork should have the following:

  • Physician’s Letter. This letter must indicate the injuries and how long those injuries have made you refrain from working. Include detailed information on these particular topics:
  • Treatments.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Medical Expenses.

Check with your car insurance agent to see if there is a form available to have your physician fill out.

  • Employer’s Letter. This letter must include verification that you missed work because of your injuries. If you have a job occupation that is not a full-time position and salaried, you may have to give access to your tax returns.
  • Police Report Copy.

How to Calculate Lost Wages

The amount of lost wages is based on your pay rate and the amount of time you missed work because of your injury. The adjuster may consider increasing your reimbursement if you missed opportunities for job interviews or promotions.

It’s difficult to accurately justify the amount, but you should still inform your insurance company about any lost opportunities you experienced after your car accident injury.

If You Don’t Work on Salary

It is still possible to calculate your lost wages even if you have a non-salaried job along with having irregular hours or if you work on commission. One method of doing this is to show what you missed due to your inability to perform your job.

An example could be documenting and showing the missed appointments or reduction in billing invoices during the period of time in which you were recovering. Another method is providing your tax returns from the previous year as proof of the wages that you could have earned if you didn’t experience a car collision. If you are dependent on tips for your wages, you will only be permitted to show the lost income you had if you reported those tips on the previous year’s tax returns.

Exclusions to Lost Wages

Exclusions appear when the policyholder is given the choice of reducing the deductible by removing specific benefits. If you’ve made the decision to decrease your costs by choosing to cut your wage loss benefits, you’ll notice this on your policy. Typically, personal injury protection policies will incorporate this provision. Make sure you are aware of what you are doing when selecting this option. If you are injured and this results in an inability to work, you may potentially lose a lot. Discuss with your car insurance agent if you’re not sure whether your current PIP insurance coverage pays for wage loss.

Available Damages

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we offer experienced attorneys that are readily available to help you get the justice and the maximum compensation you deserve. If we do not win, you owe us nothing. There is no financial risk when making a free consultation to get your case started. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] for immediate legal assistance.

Read More About Car Accidents 
Our excellent team of car accident attorneys has created several other resources for you to read through concerning car accidents. Feel free to browse these other topics and read the ones you would like to learn about more.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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