Lost wages are a form of economic damages that typically represent a significant portion of the total value of a Florida personal injury claim. If you suffered a catastrophic injury from which you will never fully recover, your lost wages should include estimated future lost wages. These amounts could be immense if you can find a defendant who can afford to pay them.

Calculating Past and Present Lost Earnings

The term “lost wages” is something of a misnomer, as it includes much more than what it might indicate. In actual practice, people who have to miss work due to a personal injury can receive compensation for all of the following work-related income losses:

  • Wages or salary;
  • Tips;
  • Commission;
  • Overtime pay;
  • Bonuses; 
  • Depleted sick leave;
  • Depleted personal leave or vacation time; and
  • Other work-related compensation benefits.

You will need documentation or testimony to prove your losses. It gets even trickier when you have to calculate lost financial opportunities, a dilemma that an entrepreneur or freelancer might face. How many business meetings did you miss because of your injuries? How many sales calls did you have to cancel? You might rely on evidence such as the following:

  • A letter from your employer that allows you to calculate your lost earnings;
  • Pay stubs;
  • Bank statements;
  • Tax returns;
  • Business records (especially if you are a self-employed freelancer or entrepreneur);
  • A statement (or testimony) from your accountant; and/or
  • Expert testimony.

You might also need other evidence, depending on the circumstances of your case. Submit as much admissible evidence as you can get your hands on; underestimating your lost earnings could be disastrous.  

Calculating Future Lost Earnings

Most personal injury victims wait until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before they file a lawsuit seeking compensation. The problem is that some people never reach MMI, while other people face a situation in which the statute of limitations deadline will expire if they wait until they reach MMI to file a lawsuit. One of the following situations might apply:

  • Your injuries force you to retire immediately;
  • You might have to work part-time for a while or even all the way to retirement;
  • You might have to accept a less-demanding, lower-paying job; or
  • You might not know when, if ever, you will be able to return to work.

Under these circumstances, you will need to estimate your future lost earnings, discount them to their present value, and insert them into your compensation claim. If you ask for too little, you might run out of money years from now — and it will be too late to ask for any more.

The Use of an Expert Witnesses To Prove Your Claim for Future Lost Earnings

You might need help from an expert witness to calculate your lost wages. An experienced personal injury lawyer likely maintains long-standing professional relationships with expert witnesses. These witnesses will have frequently testified on the amount of earnings that a personal injury victim lost, or will lose, due to an accident. 

Special Case #1: Car Accidents and Florida’s No-Fault System

When it comes to compensation for auto accident injuries, Florida is in the minority. In other words, Florida is a “no-fault” auto insurance state. 

In most states, the way to obtain monetary compensation for an auto accident injury is to file a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance company. Another way of handling your claim is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

This is not the way things work in Florida. In Florida, every automobile driver must purchase at least $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. If they suffer a bodily injury in a car accident, even if it’s the other driver’s fault, you cannot sue them unless you suffer a “serious” injury. Instead, you must file a claim against your own PIP insurance. 

PIP only covers 60% of your pre-accident wages, plus household services and child care. Even then, PIP only pays up to policy limits. If you suffer a serious accident but only have minimum insurance, you could end up with a recovery of only $10,000 no matter how much your lost earnings amount to.

Special Case #2: Wrongful Death Cases

What happens when an injury victim dies from their injury? In Florida as well as elsewhere in the United States, their personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations deadline doesn’t begin running until the victim’s date of death. 

Wrongful death compensation for lost earnings will go to the victim’s probate estate. These amounts include:

  • Lost wages, benefits, and other compensation, starting from the date of the injury and ending on the date of the victim’s death. This amount will be zero if the victim dies on the date of the accident.
  • The total value of the earnings that the deceased victim could reasonably have been expected to leave to beneficiaries as part of their probate estate if the accident had not occurred.

In Florida wrongful death cases, courts also distribute compensation to the victim’s family. This amount can include the financial support that the victim would otherwise have provided the victim’s family.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Calculate and Win Compensation for Lost Wages

Sometimes it’s simple to calculate lost wages. In other cases, it is quite complex. Either way, you’re probably better off with a lawyer than without one. A lawyer can help you calculate losses that you might never have thought of. An attorney might also collect admissible evidence and use it to build a persuasive case in your favor.

Don’t worry that you can’t afford a lawyer because of all the earnings you lost. Almost any personal injury lawyer will charge you nothing upfront and nothing at all unless you win your case in court or through settlement. It’s the strength of your claim, not the thickness of your wallet, that matters most in a personal injury claim.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart in South Florida For Help Today

For more information, please contact the Stuart, Port St. Lucie, or Palm Beach Gardens personal injury law firm of Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart, at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Martin County, St. Lucie County, Palm Beach County, and its surrounding areas:

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart – Stuart
73 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994
(772) 444-7000

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart – Port St. Lucie
1100 SW St. Lucie West Blvd. Ste 202
Port St Lucie, FL 34986
(772) 247-3374

Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart – Palm Beach Gardens
300 Avenue of the Champions Ste 220
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418