Car accidents — Damages — Lost wages or earnings

If you are injured in a car accident then you are entitled to recover in a lawsuit not only for your injuries and property damage, but also for your economic loss of lost wages and earnings.

Loss of wages

If you are unable to attend to your job, then the loss of salary or benefits occasioned by the absence is an element of your damage from the car accident. The losses can take the form of lost pay, deduction of sick leave or vacation time, or the requirement of additional makeup time in the future.

To verify these damages, your personal injury lawyer will probably contact your supervisor, payroll department, or boss, and request the following information:

  • Time lost from work as a result of the injury.
  • Salary that would have been earned during that period.
  • Pay you did or will receive.
  • Sick leave or vacation charged to you.
  • Any effect of lost time on promotions or advancement.
  • Overtime that was available during the period.

Loss of future earnings

There are elements of future damages that can develop from an injury from a car accident. Often, especially if your injury results in a permanent partial disability, there is a financial impact that exceeds the pay lost while you were recovering and unable to return to work.

If you were not able to return to the same duties performed before the injury, then the restricted duty may have a reduced level of pay. Even if the level of pay is equal, the opportunities for advancement, overtime or other bonus situations may be reduced.

The Federal Labor Bureau maintains statistics about the lifetime decrease in earning capacity of anyone who is hindered by a permanent partial disability.


If you are a self-employed or commissioned employee then it can be much more difficult to prove financial losses.

Sometimes the only way for your lawyer to prove the loss is through the income tax records before and after the occurrence.

And sometimes a self-employed person who is injured actually has an increase in income due to market conditions or other economic factors. In this situation an economic expert is needed to provide verification of damages, and the expert needs a great deal of information about the industry to reach any conclusions.

For the self-employed business owner, replacement value or the cost of substitute workers is a valid measure of damages.