Understanding The Value Of Lost Wages After A Northern Virginia Personal Injury

By Peter DePaolis

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, such as an automobile accident or a slip and fall, you can expect to lose time from work while you recover. That means losing wages you would have earned but for the negligent actions of the person who injured you. Fortunately, lost wages are one type of damages that you can demand in a personal injury lawsuit from the at-fault party. Proving the value of those wages isn’t always straightforward, but a dedicated Northern Virginia personal injury attorney can assist.

Your goal in seeking compensation for your injuries is to identify and quantify any and all damages lost, so it’s important to understand the nature of lost wages in general. Any time you spend recovering from your injury, and not earning a living, will typically be considered lost wages. So will any time you spend either now or in the future going to physical therapy, seeing a specialist, having surgery, or getting any other medical attention for your injuries.

Medical events like these actually impact the victim in two ways: the direct costs of those events and the time lost from not working. Although it’s not easy to predict the exact nature of medical attention you will need in the future, a medical expert or other expert witnesses can help explain the likely trajectory of your recovery and long-term health needs. Then, you can assess what sort of impact that might have on your wages.

This is where a similar concept comes in: lost earning capacity. These damages, which are often categorized separately from lost wages, are nonetheless closely related and have to be considered in any demand for compensation. If you are unable to return to your previous job because of your injuries, you may be able to seek damages to account for money you would have earned but for the accident. A vocational expert witness may be called upon to help.

Finally, there are cases in which the victim tragically dies from his or her injuries. These are known as wrongful death lawsuits and are in many ways like a personal injury suit. Eligible surviving family members can bring these actions against the liable party to recover a number of damages. Among them are the value of lost wages and benefits, including what the deceased victim might reasonably have been expected to earn if he or she had lived.

Proving Your Claim for Lost Wages

There are several ways to substantiate your claim for lost wages, and the value thereof. For example:

  • Medical records. These establish the nature of your injuries, show the time you needed away from work, and often contain work restrictions from doctors.
  • Personal notes. Along with your medical records, you should keep your own list of all the days you miss work. Be sure to include half days and other times during the day you missed to see a doctor. If you’re an hourly worker, these small chunks of time will quickly add up to significant lost wages.
  • Employer statement. Your boss, supervisor, human resources manager, or other individuals may provide a statement that explains details about your reduced job functions and time missed from work. Be sure the statement is signed and printed on company letterhead.
  • Pay records. Of course, pay records themselves are essential. These may include pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and more.
  • Past pay records. Records from before your injury may also prove useful, especially in lost earning capacity cases. They can demonstrate the level of work you were capable of performing before your injury.

Working with a knowledgeable Northern Virginia personal injury attorney will maximize the likelihood of winning the lost wages and related damages you’re entitled to. If you or a loved one were injured because of someone else’s negligence, call Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today to learn more about your legal rights.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.