Three things you need to do to recover maximum damages for lost income—and lost earning capacity—after being injured in a serious accident.

How Are Your Lost Wages Calculated?

If you’ve had an accident and your injuries prevent you from returning to work, it can be devastating—both for you and for your family.

Struggling to recover physically is hard enough for personal injury plaintiffs. But you may also face an uncertain financial future, not knowing when or even whether you can go back to work.

Lost wages are often included in the compensatory damages owed to a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. But in order to recover them, you must provide documentation that shows the losses you have suffered and may continue to suffer.

Proving What You’ve Lost in Wages

In order to prove lost wages, you must first gather all of the appropriate supporting documentation. You will need a doctor’s prescription ordering you to take a specific amount of time off work because of your injuries. You will also need a letter from your employer that provides the following details:

  • Your hourly pay or salary at the time of your injury.
  • The number of hours you have missed from work because of your injuries.
  • The number of hours you typically work during each pay period, including your average overtime.
  • The number of vacation and sick days you have used while recovering.
  • Any additional compensation you would have received but did not receive during your recovery, such as bonuses and promotions.

What If You Are Salaried or Self-Employed?

If you are a salaried employee, divide your annual salary by the number of hours you work per year—typically, 2, 000 or so for a full-time employee—to calculate what you earn per hour. To determine the number of hours you have missed, multiply the number of days you were out of work by eight. Then multiply the hours you missed by the amount you earn per hour to calculate your total lost wages.

If you are self-employed, it may be harder to document lost income. In the case of a relatively simple business with steady income, you should be able to use your tax returns from the past several years to figure it out. Average the income reported in these returns and use that average as a basis for calculating the lost income. If your business affairs are more complicated, you may need to enlist the help of an accountant, financial expert, or vocational specialist to help you crunch the numbers.

Losing Your Future Ability to Earn

If your injury is so severe that it renders you unable to work for the indefinite future, you may also be entitled to make a claim for future lost earning capacity.

An award for the reduction of future earning capacity is typically based on the following considerations:

  • The nature of your employment.
  • Your earnings before the accident.
  • Your present health.
  • Your prospects for advancement before the injury.
  • Your prospects for future earnings before the injury and the extent to which those prospects have been diminished by the injury.
  • The length of time you would reasonably have continued working had the injury not occurred.

It’s up to you to establish your own lost earnings. But an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney can simplify this process and make it more accurate and comprehensive, substantially increasing your chances for maximum recovery.

If you have suffered a personal injury in Colorado that is affecting your ability to work and earn an income, contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen online or call (303) 454-8000 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today.

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