Accidents and mishaps are an unfortunate part of life. Everyone deals with these at some point, though many are minor and have few consequences. However, some accidents can cause severe injuries and have lasting effects. In some situations, an accident can be so significant that the victim is unable to work and earn a living. If an accident has made it difficult or impossible to continue your work-from-home job, compensation may be available. A personal injury lawyer can help with calculating post-accident income loss and represent you as you pursue legal action.
Types of Income to Consider
When a personal injury attorney takes a case where lost income is a factor, the professional will consider various elements. A key factor is the type of income the person receives from work. Most employees receive either an hourly wage or a salary. An hourly wage is a base rate the person receives for every hour worked. A salary is a set total amount of money the person receives for every pay period, regardless of the total hours worked. Employees who work more than full-time hours (usually 40 hours in a week) are sometimes entitled to overtime pay.
Some companies pay employees and executives bonuses. These may come annually, quarterly, semiannually, or monthly and may be due to performance or as an incentive. In sales jobs, employees typically earn commissions, which are on top of a lower hourly rate or salary. Jobs such as those in service industries may receive tips in addition to base pay or salary. When calculating post-accident income loss, a lawyer may also look at freelance income, self-employment income, or seasonal income.
Calculating Income for Past Work Lost
For many employees, working from home offers flexibility and convenience. Work-from-home jobs are ordinarily those that don’t require face-to-face interactions with coworkers and customers, as well as jobs that the employee performs chiefly on a computer. But even these types of jobs can be difficult to do with serious injuries. For example, an accident that leaves a person with motor skill impairments, cognitive deficiencies, or sight problems could make it impossible for the individual to work for a time. An employee may miss work because of a hospitalization, surgeries, treatments, or recovery.
A personal injury attorney can assist in calculating post-accident income loss. If you had to miss work due to your injuries, your attorney will use a simple formula to determine how much you are entitled to. You will determine how many hours of work you miss and multiply that by your hourly wage. This is how much money you lost because of the accident and injuries.
Calculating Salary Earnings
Determining lost wages for salary earners is similar. You will first calculate your per-hour rate and multiply that by how much time you were away from work. If you are a salaried employee, you likely work full-time hours five days a week. This equals a total of 2,080 hours in a year. Take your annual salary and divide it by 2,080. So, if you earn $75,000 a year, your hourly rate would be $36.06. If you missed three weeks of work, multiply this by 15 days, multiplied by 8 hours. Your total missed earnings as a salaried worker would have been $4,327.20. If you would have earned a bonus or commission at your job if you had not been injured, your attorney will factor these earnings into your compensation.
Gathering Essential Documentation
An important element of calculating post-accident income loss includes proving your income and earnings. To build your case, your personal injury lawyer will request copies of your recent W-2 or 1099 statements, paycheck stubs, or other tax forms. To bolster your claims, you may need to provide a few years of tax forms and multiple pay periods of income statements. If you have additional income, you will need to provide evidence of these earnings.
Calculating a Loss of Future Earnings
Many accidents leave a victim unable to work for days, weeks, or even months. However, in the most serious cases, injuries could render the person incapable of working for an even longer period, if ever again, even in a work-from-home job. If an accident prevents you from performing your regular work duties in the foreseeable future, your personal injury attorney will begin calculating post-accident income loss.
Determining your future earnings can be more difficult, as can proving that you are entitled to this income. Your attorney will have to show that your injuries were severe enough to make it impossible to resume your work responsibilities. To do this, the personal injury lawyer may include the testimony of medical professionals. The court will also look at your age, pre-accident health, and the nature of your job. With these factors in mind, the court will assess whether you indeed cannot work going forward and that you are entitled to compensation for these future losses. To determine the amount in your settlement, your lawyer will evaluate how much money you will have earned at the same or similar job over the course of your working career. This includes estimating raises in pay you would receive in the future if you were able to keep working.
In addition, a personal injury lawyer may argue that even if your physical injuries heal, the emotional trauma of your accident is hindering your ability to return to your work-from-home job. To prove this, the lawyer will involve the testimony of mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
A serious accident due to someone else’s negligence can leave you with a tremendous financial burden. Not only will you likely have significant medical bills to take care of, but you may also worry about your ability to earn a living moving forward. If you lose money due to your inability to work—either now or in the future—a personal injury lawyer can help. Your lawyer will examine many factors in assessing how much you deserve in a settlement.