A serious car accident can have long-lasting ramifications on your career. If you are unable to work in the same capacity as before your accident, speaking with a car accident lawyer in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Laramie, Wyoming can help you understand how to pursue compensation. You should not have to go through the process of dealing with an accident alone, and you have the right to recover enough money to account for your reduced ability to work.
What Are Future Lost Wages?
“Lost wages” is a term that refers to the income you miss out on when you cannot work after a car accident. In the case of a small accident with minor injuries, your recovery period might only be a few days or a couple of weeks. In that case, calculating your lost wages would be fairly straightforward. You would simply multiply your rate by the number of hours you would have worked had the accident not occurred.
If your accident left you with catastrophic injuries that force you to leave your job, either to find less demanding work or to discontinue working entirely, you may qualify for future lost wages. Future lost wages is a term that encompasses all of the income you will miss out on throughout the course of your career. If your injuries permit you to work, but at a lesser capacity, you can also refer to your losses as “reduced earning capacity.”
How Are Lost Wages Determined?
Calculating Lost Wages
Your lost wages start with your hourly rate or your salary. If you are salaried, you would calculate your lost wages by dividing your salary by the days you work per year and the hours you work per day. You would then multiply the number you get by the hours you missed.
In addition to your salary or your hourly rate, you have the right to claim any other form of income the accident caused you to miss. Your lawyer can help you calculate the true cost of your accident by reviewing your job’s compensation package to see if you lost any:
- Tips or gratuities
- Vacation days
- Sick days
- Opportunities to earn a promotion
- 401k contributions
- Contributions to a health plan
- Other benefits
What If You Are Self-Employed?
If you are self-employed, your income might be seasonal or irregular. You can still claim all of your lost wages by providing a reasonable estimate of the amount of money you usually make. Referring to your previous taxes can help you determine the amount of money you can claim. You can also show emails and other correspondence relating to jobs that were in your pipeline before the accident forced you to take time off.
The records that pertain to your yearly income and expenses can be important for proving lost wages if you are a small business owner. Your lawyer might also suggest that you bring in a forensic accountant to assist with the calculations. If you already have an accountant who you usually work with, he or she could also provide valuable insight.
What If You Have Multiple Jobs?
If you put in hours at a part-time job in addition to working full-time, you and your lawyer can calculate the lost wages for both positions and claim the total amount. This principle also applies if you have multiple part-time jobs.
How are Future Lost Wages and Reduced Earning Capacity Calculated?
If you are eligible to claim future lost wages or reduced earning capacity, you will identify all of the types of income you would have earned over the course of your career had it not been for the accident. Your payout from a settlement or a court verdict should reflect the sum of those losses, as well as any other additional damages you incurred, such as medical expenses.
Calculating future lost wages or reduced earning capacity can be challenging because it is impossible to know how changes in the economy over several decades can affect the rates in a particular industry. Your lawyer might suggest that you work with an economist or another expert witness who can help make your case.
What Kinds of Injuries Are Considered Catastrophic?
Any injury that has a profound effect on the quality of your life is a catastrophic injury. Sometimes, catastrophic injuries heal over the course of several years. Other times, they result in permanent disabilities. Brain trauma and damage to the spinal cord often constitute catastrophic injuries.
Other Considerations for Catastrophic Injuries
Future Medical Expenses
If you are dealing with injuries that left you unable to work the job you had prior to the accident, chances are, future lost wages are not your only concern. You may be in need of costly treatments that could continue for the rest of your life. In that case, your payout should reflect all of your future medical expenses.
Loss of Consortium
Catastrophic injuries affect whole families, not just individuals. If you find yourself unable to provide the same level of care for your spouse or your children, they could be eligible to file loss of consortium claims against the liable party. Each of their claims would be a derivative of yours, meaning that proving your own damages is the first step towards securing compensation for your family members.
Non-economic damages are losses that do not have a fixed monetary value. They can include:
- Pain and suffering
- The loss of the ability to engage in enjoyable activities
- The loss of spousal affection
When your lawyer advises you on how much money to seek in a settlement or a lawsuit, he or she will estimate the figure a court would likely assign to your non-economic damages based on previous cases. In general, the value of non-economic damages goes up with the severity of the accident.
If your injuries were caused by an act of gross negligence, such as drunk driving, you may be eligible to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are a form of punishment for the at-fault party. They are calculated as a percentage of your other damages.
Finding a Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
When it comes to proving damages in a catastrophic injury case, the stakes are high. It is important to find a lawyer who has a strong track record of securing large payouts for his or her clients. Since the insurance company is likely to put up a strong defense against a valuable claim, your lawyer will need to conduct a thorough investigation of your case for evidence in your favor.
Our law firm offers free initial consultations for individuals seeking compensation. When you meet with us, you will have the chance to ask questions about the legal process, the value of your claim, and the strategies that would serve you best.
Get Expert Legal Representation in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Laramie, Wyoming
Personal injury law states that you have the right to recover damages for an accident that isn’t your fault. Getting the full value of your compensation can make a huge difference in the quality of life you experience after a catastrophic accident. We serve our clients with compassion and competence, fighting for every penny you deserve. To get in touch with a car accident lawyer in Cheyenne, Wyoming or Laramie, Wyoming, contact Ochs Law Firm.