Understanding Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case

Are you considering filing a personal injury lawsuit after an accident that wasn’t your fault? Are you wondering what types of compensation you might qualify for? When discussing the compensation you may be due after an accident, property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages tend to be at the top of the list. Yet, what is considered lost income? And how do you know how much your lost wages are worth?

At the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, our knowledgeable personal injury attorney has the resources to accurately calculate your financial losses following a traffic collision or other accident and determine the value of your lost wages. Let our team help you understand the value of your case. Contact our office today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

What Are Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case?

In personal injury cases, part of the compensation you seek may include money for lost wages. Compensation for lost wages refers to money for the unpaid time you spent away from your job while recovering from an injury. Lost wages are monies you would have earned if you hadn’t been injured in an accident.

Lost wages can also include bonuses or commissions that you would have received or earned if you hadn’t missed work due to your injuries. In some cases, lost wages can also account for the money you would have received for raises or promotions that you may have missed out on due to the extent of your injuries.

To claim lost wages, you must document with your physician by way of physician’s notes or it must be mentioned in the medical records that you need to take time off to recuperate from your injuries.

What Is Loss of Earning Capacity?

A loss of earning capacity is different from lost wages. Lost wages are the money you currently lose because you are out of work recovering from an injury. In contrast, loss of earning capacity refers to a reduction in the wages you could make in the future because of your injuries. 

How do you know if you will miss out on future wages? Generally, loss of earning capacity accounts for money lost when an injury is so severe it prevents you from returning to work. In some cases, loss of earning capacity provides compensation if an injury prevents you from returning to the workforce in the same position you had before you were injured, even if you can work a less demanding, lower-paying job. Generally, loss of earning capacity is calculated using a vocational expert and economist, depending on the size of the case.

How Are Lost Earnings Calculated?

Calculating your lost wages is straightforward if you work a salary or hourly job. Previous pay stubs and documentation from your employer can help your attorney place an accurate value on your lost wages. In most cases, lost wages are tabulated by totaling the hours you’ve missed from work and multiplying them by your hourly pay.


In general, an attorney will consider the following:

  • Your position at the company
  • Regular working hours
  • Salary or hourly rate of pay
  • How much time you missed

A skilled personal injury attorney will also evaluate your workplace records to determine whether overtime, bonuses, tips, or commission can be added to your lost wages estimate. 

If you are self-employed, work multiple jobs, or have a more complicated job situation, your lawyer can identify the documentation you need to prove your lost wages personal injury claim.

How Are Lost Future Earnings Calculated?

Loss of earning capacity or future earnings is much more challenging to calculate. Loss of earning capacity depends on the severity of your injuries, whether you can return to work in any capacity, and your potential career trajectory. Factors that can affect the value of your lost future earnings claim may include: 

  • Your occupation
  • The level of skill required to do your job
  • The market rate for your position
  • Past earnings
  • Life expectancy
  • The severity of your injury
  • Ability to compete in the labor market

The value of your lost future earnings can depend on your specific work and the nature of your injuries. A skilled personal injury attorney can review the specifics of your case and help give you a better understanding of what you may be owed for lost future earnings.

Can I Receive Compensation for Lost Benefits?

In some circumstances, you may also be owed compensation for lost benefits. For example, if you had to take sick days to recover from your injuries, your attorney may request compensation for those days. If it weren’t for the accident, you would have been able to use those sick days for another illness.

The same is generally applicable for vacation days. In the case of severe injuries, most people do not have enough sick days to cover the time missed from work. Unfortunately, you may have to dip into your vacation days to get paid for the time you are off work recovering from the accident. An attorney could work to obtain compensation for the value of your lost vacation days.

If you are worried about losing other potential perks or benefits specific to your employer (such as a car allowance or per diem package), share your concerns with an experienced personal injury attorney.

How to Claim Lost Wages from a Car Accident

Proving lost wages after a car accident requires evidence. To recover compensation following an accident, you must prove that your injuries impact your ability to work. You must also establish that you are losing money while you cannot work. Documentation that is vital to strengthening your lost wages claim typically includes:

  • Medical records
  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • W2s
  • Employment verification
  • Wage verification

If you are self-employed, you may need to provide alternative documentation, such as accounts receivable paperwork, business-related tax returns, bank records, and client information.

Gathering the necessary paperwork to prove your lost wages case can be challenging when you are seriously injured. An attorney can gather crucial evidence while you focus on your recovery. At the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, we review tax returns. However, tax returns are privileged and not produced in discovery to the opposing party.

Need Help? Let a Personal Injury Lawyer File Your Lost Wages Claim

 Have you lost wages after being injured in an accident caused by another person’s carelessness? Get help recovering the money you deserve by contacting the experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Pius Joseph. Our legal team can evaluate your case and calculate the fair value of your financial losses.

If you can’t work, you can’t earn money to care for yourself and your family. Don’t let the stress of this financial burden overwhelm you. Turn to the skilled team at Law Offices of Pius Joseph for help. We look forward to meeting you and hearing your story during a free consultation.