The losses a person suffers in a serious car accident are nearly impossible to fully quantify. While medical expenses may be demonstrated with billing statements from clinics and hospitals, how do you put a price tag on the suffering you've endured?
Equally difficult can be figuring out how much you've lost in earnings and potential earnings because of the accident. Many factors go into this calculation, and you should make sure your attorney has all the information he needs to demand a fair amount of compensation for your lost income.
When Is Time Away From Work Compensable?
If you're injured in a car crash that wasn't your fault, you're entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In addition to payment of medical bills, you should also receive damages for other costs and losses you incurred as a result of the accident.
Many people involved in serious car accidents must miss work for an extended period of time to seek medical treatment and to recover from injuries. They may also miss work for meetings with attorneys or insurance adjusters and, in some cases, for time spent in court at trial. It doesn't matter if you're a full-time, part-time, hourly, or even self-employed worker—you're still eligible to recover the money you lost because of the accident. If you used sick leave or vacation time to recuperate, that time should be reimbursed in the settlement, since you wouldn't have taken the days if you hadn't been injured.
Documenting Lost Income
In order to show that you did indeed lose income because of the accident, you'll have to provide documentation of what you normally earn and how you missed out on those wages because of the accident.
You should be prepared to show the following:
- A letter from your employer. This document, ideally on company letterhead, should verify your employment, your rate of pay, the hours you normally work, and the time you missed because of the accident. It doesn't matter if the hours you took were vacation or sick time.
- Proof of self-employment. If you're self-employed, it will be more difficult to prove lost hours. Billing statements, invoices, appointment calendars, and meeting minutes can be used to show how much you earned on a daily basis before the accident.
- Proof of earnings. The best evidence of earnings would be your most recent tax return, but if that's not indicative of a normal year’s earnings, you may want to provide several years’ worth. All you need to show is your gross income; deductions and exemptions aren't relevant.
- Evidence of lost opportunities. If you missed out on an interview for a promotion or the chance at holiday overtime because of the accident, you should provide evidence of that. A statement from your employer will likely be sufficient.
When showing evidence of lost income, it is important that you think of all sources of earnings, including overtime pay, bonuses, and other benefits.
Showing Loss of Potential Earnings
If your car accident left you permanently injured or disabled in some way, you may not be able to return to the same position you were in before the accident. You may have to take a position that pays less than you were earning or that has fewer opportunities for advancement and raises.
To show this, you'll have to calculate what you would have earned in the years to come had you remained in your original position, and compare that to potential earnings in your new position.
While you may not know what to say to an insurance company after a crash, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you gather the information you need to support your demand for compensation for lost income. Please call the car accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys for more information about the damages you may be owed.