Former State's Attorney With Over 38 Years of Experience


Calculating Lost Wages in a Car Accident Claim

Road accidents are the leading cause of death among people under 55 in the USA. Personal injuries from a car accident can be immediate or delayed. Therefore, it is advisable to seek medical attention immediately after an accident, even if you do not see signs of injuries or feel the pain. 

This post will discuss how a car accident victim can get compensation for lost income, wages, and earnings.


Defining Lost Wages

Many things happen on the road. For example, motorists can knock or be knocked by another vehicle, deny other motorists or pedestrians the right of way, hit a pothole, or lose control of their cars. 

All these scenarios could result in a dent in your car, a personal injury, or even death. What do you need to ask yourself after a vehicle accident is? What rights do I have?

If you sustain injuries in a car accident, the first thing you will do is rush to the hospital for treatment. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you can spend a few days nursing the pain at home or in a hospital ward, undergoing surgery or therapy sessions, among other forms of care. 

All these could happen any day, including working days. If your injuries interfere with your work schedule and reduce your ability to earn, you file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the lost income.

Lost wages are among the compensatory damages you can recover in a personal injury claim. Other damages that you may be able to recover for yourself or your loved one include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Car repair costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death
  • Lost companionship


Compensation for lost income is easy when the victim is seeking compensation for past wages. For instance, if you broke your leg and took 15 days to recover, you will receive compensation for the 15 days you missed work due to the injuries. 

You may be entitled to other financial and non-financial damages such as compensation for medical bills, pain, and suffering, among others.

However, some injuries permanently impair a victim’s ability to earn in the future and are complex to determine. For instance, a can accident can lead to a severe loss of stamina, endurance, and chronic pain that affects the victim’s performance or ability to carry out specific duties at work. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer could help you recover damages for:

  • Missed work
  • Missed income opportunities
  • Reduced earning ability
  • Missed tips, bonuses, sales commissions, and other non-salary benefits
  • Missed promotions and pay raises


Proving Loss Of Income

It is easy to prove that your injuries prevented you from reporting to work for a few days if you have a regular job. In this case, you only need to provide your payslips, medical records, and testimony from your employer to recover losses. 

However, some injury cases are hard to prove and may require the help of an accident lawyer and expert witnesses. For instance:

Unemployed Accident Victims – You do not have to be currently employed to qualify for compensation. However, you need to consult an injury attorney to prove that your earning potential has been reduced due to the injuries and recover compensation.

Victims With Pre-Existing Conditions – If you are disabled, a personal injury attorney can help you prove that your injuries have made your condition worse and significantly reduced your earning ability.

Independent Contractors – Freelancers and other unsalaried workers need legal help proving the earnings and income-generating potential they have missed due to car accident injuries.

Victims Who Suffer Disabling Injuries. Suppose the car accident left you with a permanent disability. In that case, the law allows you to recover compensation for the earnings you would have made between the time of the accident and your retirement age. 


In case of a disability that won’t last forever, it is hard to determine how long it will last and calculate your damages. Contact a personal injury attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.

However, before filing the personal injury claim, it is important to determine if the injuries are responsible for missed work. 


These supporting documents will help the accident lawyer to calculate your lost income settlement:

  • A letter from the doctor is explaining how your injuries affected your ability to work.
  • A letter from the employer to verify that you missed work due to injuries.
  • Invoices or paychecks for the previous year, the amount of salary, or the hourly payments you missed due to the car accident.
  • Testimony from an expert witness determining what you would have earned was it not for the injury. If it is a case of reduced earning ability, you will only be compensated for the difference in current and potential income.
  • Testimony about your work habits, character traits, intentions to change careers, and education to calculate future earning potential.


The Formula For Calculating Lost Wages

Salaried Victims

For example, an average week has 40 working hours. This means you have eight working hours a day and 2,080 working hours a year. 

If you earn an annual salary of $50,000 and have spent 20 days seeking treatment, your settlement for lost earnings will be:

$50,000 ÷ 2,080 hours = $24.03 per hour.

$24.03 x 8 hours a day =$192.24 per day

Total damaged would therefore be $192.24 x 20 days = $3,844.8

The 20 lost days do not have to be following each other but can be spread out from the day you got injured to the day you recovered fully.


Hourly Workers

The formula is not very different for workers who earn an hourly wage. To get the number of damages you owe the insurance company, you will multiply the number of lost hours by your hourly pay.

For instance, if you earn $15.00 per hour and have lost 5 hours in total, your compensation will be $15.00 x 5 hours, bringing the damages to $ 75.00.


Independent Contractors

As an independent contractor, an accident lawyer will need to use your previous earnings from clients to determine how much you have potentially lost. 

If your 1099 form shows that you earned $40,000 the previous year, the attorney could use that to determine how much you would have made had you been working.


Lost Earning Capacity And Future Income

In Illinois, the minimum hourly pay for workers over 18 years is $11.00. This is the base rate that will help you determine the lost earning capacity or future income, especially if you are currently unemployed. Contact an accident attorney in Illinois for help in determining how much you should claim from the insurance company.


Ready To File Your Car Accident Claim In Orland Park And Chicago, IL? Call Us Today

It is not easy to prove lost earnings or income in Illinois and elsewhere in the country. Nevertheless, Illinois has some lenient laws that allow you to recover any amount of settlement for injuries sustained in car accidents. 

Sometimes, the insurance company will delay the case to reduce your settlement amount. Michael J. Brennan will help you recover all damages quickly. Our injury lawyers have helped people in Orland Park and Chicago, IL, recover medical expenses in car accidents, slip and fall cases, dog bite claims, among others. 

Our attorneys have over 35 years of experience in injury law, medical malpractice, and related practice areas. They will use our combined expertise to determine the at-fault party and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. 


Call our Orland Park office on 708-349-3916 for a free case review.

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