How To Recover Compensation for Lost Income Due to a Car Accident

No one should ever lose work income from a car accident that was not their fault.

Your settlement compensation after a car accident in Georgia may include recovering past and future lost income and earnings. This guide explains how lost pay can be included in your personal injury damage claim.

Key Points

  • In Georgia, your settlement or injury award includes lost wages, if you missed time or will miss time from work as a result of a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
  • If you cannot work after a car accident, your past and future lost income can be calculated into your settlement compensation.
  • Lost income is calculated by verifying your income and the amount of time missed from work while you recover.
  • In the most serious cases, experienced personal injury lawyers often employ economists and use physical therapists and doctors as experts to estimate your future lost income.

Employment is crucial because it makes it so we can pays our bills, buy food, pay for housing, pay our utilities – including phone and internet, and it helps us maintain our lifestyle. If a car accident significantly reduces or halts our income, it can throw our lives into disarray. Falling behind on loan payments may result in losing our homes or cars, and a shortage of money could stop us from affording necessities like food and gas, leaving us in a tough spot. Considering how vital our earnings from work are, having to use paid time off (PTO) or take leave without pay underscores the need to hire a competent car accident lawyer to reclaim every penny lost.

Losing Income from a Car Accident

Can a Car Accident Put a Person Out of Work?

Yes. Jobs that involve physical labor are at the greatest risk following a car accident. Similarly, office roles or any job that involves prolonged sitting can also be jeopardized by a car accident, especially in cases of brain injuries or other severe injuries. If your job demands the use of your arms and shoulders, and the accident leads to a fracture in one of these areas, it will render you unable to fulfill your job responsibilities, effectively putting you out of work.

Using Paid Time Off to Recover from a Car Accident: Is It Considered Lost Income?

Yes, using Paid Time Off (PTO) to recover from a car accident can be considered lost income, especially in the context of seeking compensation following the accident. The PTO can include vacation time, or sick time. When you use PTO, you’re essentially using benefits that you would not have had to use if the accident hadn’t occurred. This means you’re depleting resources that could have been used for leisure, personal matters, or future necessities. In legal claims or insurance negotiations, the value of the PTO used can often be calculated into your total lost wages or income, helping to ensure that you’re compensated for all losses, including the valuable time off that you had to expend due to the accident.

Are Lost Wages from a Car Accident Considered an Economic Damage?

In Georgia, if you lose income now or in the future because of an incident, this falls under what’s called economic losses. These losses cover not just your missed pay, but also medical expenses, damage to property, and any other costs you have to pay out of your own pocket. It’s crucial to keep track of all these economic losses, much like you would maintain records of receipts and expenses in a business.

When you’re seeking a settlement for these losses, it’s your responsibility—or your personal injury lawyer’s—to present evidence of your lost income to the insurance adjuster. To prove your financial losses, you can use various documents such as verification from your employer, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, pay stubs, and bank records. This documentation is essential for establishing the economic impact of the incident and securing compensation.

Losing Future Income

Can the Loss of Future Income Be Calculated into a Car Accident Settlement?

Under Georgia law, if you’ve experienced a permanent injury or an injury that demands extensive future medical care, like surgery with a lengthy recovery period, you have the right to claim and obtain compensation for lost future income. The ability to recover this income hinges on proving your anticipated inability to work in the future because of your injuries or the need for ongoing treatment.

What Are Examples of Future Income Losses?

Imagine you’re a mechanic with an annual salary of $80,000. After a car accident, you sustain a back injury necessitating surgery and an extended recovery period, rendering you unable to work for a year. This scenario doesn’t just result in the immediate loss of your $80,000 salary; it also disrupts your projected salary growth, such as a 5% raise you were anticipated to receive the following year. Without considering the ongoing effects of these earnings over time, your total future income loss from this accident would amount to your lost salary plus the additional income from the expected raise, summing up to a significant figure exceeding $80,000.

Losing your Job from a Car Accident

Can a Company Terminate an Employee who is Unable to Fulfill their job Duties Due to Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident?

In Georgia, most jobs are “at-will,” which means bosses can fire employees for almost any reason. But, there are laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that protect workers who are injured in car accidents and can’t work because of those injuries. The ADA says that employers have to adjust the workplace to help employees with disabilities, as long as it’s not too difficult or expensive for the business. If someone is fired just because they have a disability, that could be considered unfair discrimination. The FMLA allows workers who qualify to take up to 12 weeks off without pay for serious health issues without losing their jobs.

How Can Injuries from a Car Accident Result in Someone Losing their Job?

Businesses are going to look out for themselves. There are numerous reasons why a business would fire an employee after a car accident.

  • Extended absence from severe injuries
  • Inability to perform job duties
  • Economic pressure

Understanding Auto Insurance Companies’ Perspective on Lost Income and Job Loss

Which Type of Auto Insurance Policy Provides Coverage for Income Lost Due to a Car Accident?

There isn’t a specific type of auto insurance coverage exclusively for lost work income. For example, certain coverages, like MedPay, are designed to cover specific expenses such as medical bills. For lost income there’s no direct specific coverage. However, the absence of a coverage solely for lost income doesn’t mean an auto insurance policy won’t compensate for it. A key concern for car accident lawyers is verifying if the at-fault driver has liability insurance. Should liability insurance be in place, there’s a good chance of recovering lost income, provided the missed work can be clearly linked to the accident and it’s established that the accident was not your fault.

Can My Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM or UM) Kick in and Pay for Lost Income?

Yes, Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) can compensate for lost income. When a car accident results in lost income, the overall costs can escalate quickly. Not only can lost income significantly impact finances, but when combined with hefty medical bills, it’s possible to reach the policy’s maximum limit. Once those limits are exceeded, any additional settlement amounts for expenses, including lost income, would not be covered unless the victim has UIM coverage. Essentially, UIM coverage steps in to cover costs like lost income in such scenarios, providing an essential safety net in a car accident settlement.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Willfully Pay for Lost Income?

Auto insurance companies aren’t known to approach you and ask about how much work you missed. It requires informing them. To convince an auto insurance company that you couldn’t work and lost income because of a car accident, it’s crucial to have proof of your injuries and the medical bills that came from the accident. The reason proof of injuries are so important is that, in the process of making a claim for an accident, the injuries will make the lost income expense “make sense” to them. If the injuries are very minimal the insurance company will be skeptical about claims for lost work income. They might think you’re just using the accident as an excuse to get time off work.

Will the Auto Insurance Company Reimburse My Employer for Used Paid Time Off Due to an Accident?

No, while you may not have technically lost income due to using PTO, the value of those PTO days themselves was lost. If you had to miss work because of someone else’s negligence on the road, you should be compensated for it. This holds true even if using your PTO meant your income remained unaffected. The loss here is not about the income; it’s about the PTO days you had to use due to someone else’s negligence that led to the accident.

How to Recover Lost Income from a Car Accident

Will I Have to File a Legal Claim (Car Accident Lawsuit) To Collect Lost Work Income?

Most likely. Since car insurance companies usually don’t give out this compensation on their own, you’ll probably need to get a car accident lawyer to help you get it. Most of the time, these lawyers will also ask if you had to miss any work because of your car accident.

Proving the Lost Income

What Documents Prove that I Missed Work Because of the Injuries from the Car Accident?

To prove that you missed work because of injuries from a car accident, you’ll need a variety of documents. Medical records are key, as they show your injuries, the treatment you received, and any recommendations for you to take it easy or limit activities, clearly connecting your work absence to the accident. A note from your doctor stating you couldn’t work because of your injuries is also strong evidence. Letters from your employer detailing the days you were out, along with your pay stubs or W-2 forms, demonstrate how your income was affected. If you were put on short-term disability, documents related to that can bolster your case. The accident report itself, while not directly related to your absence from work, helps prove the accident happened and caused your injuries.

Can Testimony From Coworkers, Bosses, Or Managers Be Used To Prove Income Loss Resulting From A Car Accident?

Yes, statements from coworkers, bosses, or managers can be used to show how a car accident caused someone to lose income. These people can talk about the job the injured person did, how their absence affected work, and if they missed out on any job opportunities or promotions because of the accident. Their words can help explain how much money the injured person might have lost, adding strong support to their claim for money lost. By sharing details about the work and money impact of the accident, combined with other proof like doctor’s reports and financial records, these testimonies can make a case stronger by showing the full effect of the accident on the person’s ability to earn money.

What Obstacles do Car Accident Lawyers Face in Establishing Proof of Income Loss?

Proving the loss of income from an injury accident is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some reasons why:

  • Proof of Income Loss Documents: Not every employer readily possesses or provides the necessary documentation for their employees to demonstrate missed work or quantify income losses. This challenge is particularly prevalent among part-time or seasonal workers, whose hours frequently fluctuate.
  • Employer Cooperation Challenges: Employers aren’t always prompt in responding to calls or document requests, and they may delay in furnishing the necessary records. Furthermore, disputes can arise regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information they provide. This lack of cooperation from employers poses a significant hurdle for car accident lawyers.

Fatal Accident Income Losses

Can Compensation Be Claimed for the Future Income of Someone Who Has Died in a Car Accident?

Yes, compensation for the future income of someone who has died in a car accident can be claimed. This type of compensation falls under the category of damages in wrongful death claims. It is intended to compensate the survivors or the estate for the income the deceased would reasonably have earned had they lived.

How is Future Lost Income Be Calculated Into a Fatal Car Accident Settlement?

Calculating these damages involves estimating the deceased’s future earnings potential, considering factors such as their age, health at the time of death, occupation, earning capacity, and life expectancy prior to the accident. The process often requires expert testimony from expert witnesses to project the amount of lost income accurately. Our team can help provide further clarification.

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Will Going Back to Work After a Car Accident Hurt My Case?

Usually, the answer is no. When insurance adjusters or jurors review your case, they might doubt your injury claims if you don’t go back to work after a small injury. Even if you’ve had a serious injury, returning to work probably won’t harm your case. This is because your coworkers can share how the injury made your job more difficult after the accident.

No matter what, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about when to return to work. Follow your doctor’s advice closely. Going back to work too early can make your injury worse, leading to a longer recovery time or other problems.

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