Know your Options After an Accident
When pursuing a personal injury case after an accident, California law provides a path to recover costs beyond medical expenses. There are provisions to allow seriously injured plaintiffs to pursue damages for lost wages and in extreme cases, even lost earning capacity. Not every injury case that qualifies for damages winds up being awarded amounts in these categories, however. In some cases, it is not appropriate to ask because of the nature of the injury. In other cases, it is simply too difficult to prove. To learn more about recovering lost income due to an injury, it helps to talk to experienced California personal injury lawyers about the specifics of a particular case.
What’s the Difference Between Lost Income and Lost Earning Capacity?
Lost income is defined as the money one would have earned through regular activities but did not due to an accident, including income lost to navigating the medical and legal processes involved. To make a case for diminished future earnings, an injury has to substantially limit one’s ability to engage professionally forever. It is not awarded often except in incidents like wrongful death or where an injury totally eliminates someone’s ability to remain in a career. This is obviously a difficult thing to prove because the law around lost earning capacity is complex, but if it is appropriate to your case, an injury lawyer should know what to do.
What Are Some Legally Recognized Types of Lost Income?
It’s impossible for the law to recognize all the ways in which people earn money because sometimes income comes through channels that aren’t well documented or can’t be. If you can prove the loss, then it may be recoverable with other expenses in the event of a victory or settlement.
As an example, think about the job of an independent, self-employed plumber. Average business volume can be documented, as can the loss of opportunity for any outstanding commitments while he or she cannot work due to the injury. There’s no way to prove whether that same professional would have gotten a major opportunity in construction or not if the bid was not placed to be picked up, though, so proving the loss of income due to competitive processes like that is often impossible. Categories of income covered by the law include:
- Wages and salary gained through traditional employment, based on average earnings
- Overtime payments in line with the worker’s routine expectations due to lost opportunities
- Lost benefits, including bonuses, due to absence from the workplace
- Commissions and contracts declined by professionals in independent practice in the arts, consulting, and other fields with non-traditional employment models
- Lost or expired sick, vacation, and personal days due to the accident
It’s a good idea to consult California personal injury lawyers quickly after a crash if one believes they may lose potential future earnings due to an accident. An experienced lawyer can tell their clients how to provide clear documentation and what pieces of paperwork to preserve as they work to collect evidence of the damages incurred after an accident.
What Kinds of Accidents Qualify?
Most people think of vehicle accident injuries when the topic of lost wages comes up, and that’s natural because those are very common types of serious accidents. They are not the only accidents that qualify, however. Slip-and-fall incidents due to the negligence of a property owner, injuries due to unmaintained facilities, and practically any other kind of injury that results from the negligence of a liable party can lead to lost wages under the wrong circumstances. If your case qualifies for damages and you lost work time due to an injury, contact our team today to learn more with a free no obligation consultation.