Lost income or wages after a car accident creates a financial and emotional burden. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California, you may be wondering if you can be reimbursed for the wages you lost while recovering.
You can be reimbursed for lost wages after a car accident in California, but you should work with a car accident lawyer. An experienced legal partner can advise you how to calculate your lost income, prove your lost income, tell if you qualify for reimbursement, and ultimately how to recover compensation for those lost wages. Here’s some clarification on the type of insurance used in California:
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What kind of car insurance system does California use?
The State of California uses an “at-fault” system for determining who is liable for damages resulting from a car accident. In this system, the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying your economic and non-economic damages incurred due to the incident once the burden of proof is established.
This means that if you are involved in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party if you can prove that they were responsible for the accident. This system of determining fault is known as the “fault-based insurance system.”
Under the fault-based insurance system, all drivers in California must have automobile liability insurance coverage. This coverage helps protect you financially if you are involved in an accident. Your liability insurance coverage will help cover the following:
- The costs of repairs to the other driver’s vehicle,
- Medical expenses related to their injury, and
- Any other economic damages they may incur due to the accident.
Once fault is determined, the next step in recovering lost wages after a car accident involves identifying any economic and noneconomic damages you are entitled to.
What are economic damages?
Economic damages can be objectively quantified and are typically sought for reimbursement after a car accident in California. Economic damages refer to any financial losses incurred because of the accident.
This can include medical bills, property damage, lost wages, income, and other associated costs.
Medical bills and property damage can be calculated with relative accuracy and are reimbursed to the injured party at their expense. Lost wages are more complicated to calculate and often require an expert witness to provide testimony.
What are “lost wages?”
Lost wages refer to the salary or income you would have earned if the car accident had not occurred. This can include wages that were missed due to lost workdays, reduced hours, or decreased productivity because of the injuries sustained from the accident.
These lost wages can be difficult to calculate since they depend on the injured person’s salary and work history before the accident.
Note that you may also be entitled to compensation for future lost wages if it is determined that your ability to earn a living has been permanently impaired due to the car accident.
What are noneconomic damages?
Noneconomic damages are reimbursements awarded to a plaintiff for losses that cannot be calculated with precise dollar amounts, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible losses.
These compensations can help reimburse you for the losses a car accident victim has endured due to their injuries and its impact on their overall quality of life. They can also help provide coverage for medical bills incurred because of injuries caused by the accident.
Exceptions to Noneconomic Damage Compensation
It’s important to note that not all car accidents result in noneconomic damages. In California, if you did not possess vehicle insurance at the time of the collision, you cannot recover noneconomic damages, even if you were injured. That is why it is very important to always carry vehicle insurance.
If you believe you have suffered noneconomic damages from the accident, it’s important to speak with a qualified car accident lawyer who can assess your case and help determine if you’re eligible for compensation.
How do I recover compensation for lost wages after my car accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident in California and suffered a financial loss due to missed work, you may be able to receive compensation for your lost wages. The first step is to contact a qualified attorney who can help you understand the process of filing a claim and recovering compensation.
The most common way to recover lost wages after a car accident is through a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. When you negotiate a settlement, you can ask for compensation for all the economic losses caused by the accident, including your lost wages. Most insurance companies want to avoid the cost of a trial.
To do this, you must provide evidence of your income before the accident and the amount of time you were unable to work due to injuries caused by the accident. You should also be able to provide evidence that you had not taken any time off work before the accident.
This step starts with calculating and proving your lost income.
How to Calculate Your Lost Income?
The calculation of lost income can be complex and should be done with the help of a professional.
The most common method for calculating lost income is using gross wages. Gross wages are calculated by considering the total amount earned over a specific period, such as a year or a month, and subtracting any non-cash compensation, such as medical benefits or vacation pay. This will give you the total gross wages earned over that period.
Keep in mind, you do have a duty to mitigate your damages in any type of personal injury case. That means that if you can actually perform the work you did before the accident after the accident, then you should continue to work. Lost wages are only recoverable if you actually cannot perform the functions you could before the accident.
It’s also important to consider any fringe benefits lost due to the accident. For example, if you had employer-provided health insurance or other benefits, these should be included when calculating your lost income.
Finally, consider any bonuses or promotions lost due to your inability to work after the accident. This could include raises, bonuses, stock options, or promotions that you were expecting but did not receive due to the accident, causing your absence from work. These should all be included in the calculation of your lost income.
How to Prove Your Lost Income?
To prove your lost income and receive the compensation you deserve, you must be able to demonstrate with your attorney in court that the car accident directly caused your financial losses. To do this, you must provide evidence of the time you missed work due to the accident and of your income before the accident.
You will need to provide the following:
- Pay stubs,
- Tax returns,
- Bank statements, and
- Other forms of financial documentation showing the money you have lost due to the accident.
Additionally, if you’re self-employed, you should provide records of any business expenses and income affected by your absence.
In addition, provide evidence of the medical care and treatment you received for your injuries. This proof can include medical bills, prescription costs, doctor notes, or physical or occupational therapist documents. This will demonstrate the relationship between the accident and your medical expenses and lost wages.
Finally, document all communication with your employer regarding your absence due to the accident. This includes emails, texts, and letters between you and your employer. Having written communication on record will help establish that you have indeed missed time from work due to the accident.
Recover the Lost Wages You’re Owed With Help From HHJ Trial Attorneys
Don’t go it alone. Your chances of recovering lost wages after a car accident greatly increase with the help of a qualified car accident attorney. Get in touch with us today to learn more about lost wage reimbursement.