Can I Be Reimbursed For Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
Getting into a car accident can turn your life upside down. Even mild or moderate injuries can interfere with your ability to work. Without an income, the financial strains of an accident can become much, much worse. Fortunately, you can potentially be compensated for the lost income and wages you experience as a result of a car accident in Houston, Texas.
By filing a personal injury lawsuit against negligent parties, you can hold them legally and financially responsible for the harm they’ve caused. That can include a demand for income, wages, and the value of benefits you’ve lost because of your crash-related injuries.
Hiring an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer can make a massive difference in your case. So, give Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC a call to find out how our legal team might be able to help you fight to get all of the money you deserve.
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What Are Lost Wages?
Let’s say you were recently involved in a car accident in Houston. As a direct result of the crash, you’ve suffered a broken leg, fractured ribs, whiplash, and a concussion. You work as an electrician in Houston, which is a very physically demanding job. Your injuries will definitely prevent you from working for a few weeks, if not longer. The money you would have earned in the time you’re unable to work are considered “lost wages.”
Lost Wages Are Economic Damages
When you file a lawsuit after an accident in Houston, you’ll typically pursue something called “compensatory” damages. These awards are broken down into two distinct categories – economic and non-economic awards. Lost wages fall under the umbrella of economic damages.
Economic damages are intended to make you financially whole after your accident. By recovering an economic award, it should be as if you were never involved in an accident at all. At least, in a financial sense.
So, when you ask to be compensated for lost wages, you’re asking to be reimbursed for the income you’ve lost. You’re asking to be made whole.
How Are Lost Wages Calculated?
Lost wages are calculated by multiplying the amount of money you typically earn in a day, week, or month by the amount of time you’ve been unable to work.
Let’s say you’re paid $15 an hour and typically work 40 hours a week. Because of your car accident, you’re unable to work at all for five weeks. So, to calculate your lost wages, you’d multiply your hourly wage ($15) by the number of hours you’ll miss at work (200). In this scenario, damage for lost wages would equal $3,000.
The same holds true if you’re paid a set annual salary. You’d simply have to determine how much money you would have made in the five-week period you were unable to work after your accident. Let’s say you earn $52,000 a year. That’s $1,000 a week. If you missed five weeks of work, your lost damages would be equivalent to $5,000.
Can I Recover Other Job Benefits Used or Lost After a Car Accident?
Sometimes, compensation involves more than money. Employers are increasingly offering perks like paid time off (PTO) – such as sick days, vacation days, and personal time.
After an accident, you might tap into your PTO if you’re unable to work. However, you’re not really doing so voluntarily. You’re simply using your PTO because you can’t work and need money. By using up your PTO now, you’ll be unable to use it in the future.
So, it’s only fair that you can seek to be compensated for the benefits you’ve been forced to use as a direct result of your accident.
How is PTO Calculated?
If you use PTO or sick days after your accident, you can potentially be reimbursed for the value of that time. In order to determine how much damages for PTO is worth, you’ll have to figure out what you typically earn in a day.
Let’s say you’re allotted 10 days of vacation time and 5 sick days a year. You use all 15 days after your accident because you’re unable to work. You’re paid a salary of $52,000. That’s $200 a day. So, 15 days of PTO would be valued at $3,000.
What Do I Need to Prove Lost Wages After My Car Accident?
You can be compensated – or essentially reimbursed – for income and wages you lose out on because of your car accident. In order to recover that compensation, you’ll have to prove two things. First, you’ll have to prove that your injury interferes with your ability to work. The easiest way to do this is by getting a copy of your medical records and a letter from your doctor.
Second, you’ll have to provide documentation to back up the valuation of your claim. In other words, you’ll have to prove that you’ll really be losing out on the wages you’re asking for. How? The easiest course of action is to gather financial documents, including pay stubs, W2s, and tax returns. You can also secure a letter from your employer to support your assertion.
Who Pays My Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
It depends on how you decided to pursue compensation after your crash.
The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company: Texas has “fault” insurance rules. This simply means that the at-fault party’s insurance provider is responsible for damages resulting from an auto accident. So, if another driver is to blame, you can submit an insurance claim and seek benefits under their bodily injury liability coverage. You can recover benefits up to the policy limit.
The At-Fault Driver: If your damages exceed what the at-fault driver’s insurance provider will pay, you can file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver. In doing so, you can seek to recover lost wages (and other damages) from that individual.
Your Insurance Company: If the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, you might be able to recover damages for lost wages from your own provider. That’s true, as long as you added uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) to your personal auto insurance policy.
Employers of Negligent Parties: Was the person who caused your car accident working at the time of the crash? If so, their employer could on the hook for your damages. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident with a large truck, the trucking company could be held accountable for the actions of its negligent truck driver.
Your Employer’s Insurance Provider: Were you working at the time you were involved in your Houston car accident? If your employer carried workers’ compensation insurance, you can submit a claim to recover benefits from that policy. However, keep in mind that lost wages are subject to special consideration and calculation in workers’ compensation cases. You will likely only be able to recover a percentage of the income you’ve lost while disabled.
Other Negligent Parties: Anyone who contributed to your car accident in Houston, TX could potentially be legally and financially responsible for the consequences. This includes the income you’ve lost out on and will lose out on because of your injuries. It’s important to ensure that your accident is investigated thoroughly. That’s the only way to determine what caused the crash and, in turn, figure out who is to blame. Then your personal injury lawyer can seek compensation from all liable parties, which could include manufacturers of defective equipment, government agencies, transit companies, or other motorists on the road.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim For Lost Wages After a Car Accident in Houston?
Texas imposes a strict statute of limitations on all personal injury claims. Following a Houston car accident, you’ll typically have a maximum of two years to file a civil lawsuit against negligent parties. You could have more or less time to act. However, those are the exceptions, rather than the rule. The bottom line is that you cannot miss the applicable deadline. If you do, you’ll be barred from bringing a claim and miss out on recovering valuable compensation.
Let Us Help You Fight to Recover Lost Wages After a Car Accident in Houston
Were you recently injured in a car accident in Houston, Texas? Do your injuries prevent you from working? Have you been forced to use up your PTO while recovering from your injuries? Will you struggle because of a lost earning capacity? If so, contact Brian White & Associates to find out how our experienced attorneys might be able to help you seek damages for lost wages.
Give our law office a call to arrange a free initial evaluation. We’ll go over your case, explain your legal rights, and do our best to answer any questions you may have. There’s only a limited amount of time to act, so reach out to us for legal advice and assistance today.