When you’ve been the victim of a driver’s negligence in Virginia, you can claim payment for many damages. They include:
- Bodily injuries and the effect on your health
- Physical pain/mental anguish
- Medical expenses/other reasonable expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
As you can see, lost wages is certainly a claim in your Virginia car accident case. If you’ve been hurt, and can’t go to work, it makes sense to be able to be compensated.
However, as you’ll soon learn, claiming value from an insurance company is often not easy, and they fight you at every turn. And just because you’ve lost wages because of an accident doesn’t mean the insurance company is simply going to pay out. So the goal is to make your lost wage claim as easy to understand (and prove) as possible.
Here are a couple of things to consider for your lost wages:
- When you make your claim, you can claim your gross earnings, not simply your net earnings.
- Having to use sick leave due to an accident is something you can claim for too. If someone forces you to have to use the time you would have otherwise been able to use in other ways, they should pay you for it.
- Your goal should be to make your lost wage claim so easy a second grader can understand it. This means claims based upon hourly wages are the easiest to make. If you get paid hourly, make sure to keep try of the hours missed. Then it’s as simple as multiplying hours missed times your hourly rate – it’s that simple.
- Keep records of hours missed (time off). If you have a work calendar or some record your employer keeps for days missed, make sure to get copies to corroborate your claim.
- If possible, have a co-worker be willing to attest to your lost wages.
- If you run your own business, you can still claim lost earnings. But, again, you need to be able to verify the value you lost in a clear and concise way. So make sure you’re keeping organized records of your earnings before and after the accident. If it's so disorganized that you can't easily explain it, then it's going to be hard to get an insurance adjustor (or a jury) to understand it.
- You can claim for lost work that you already had lined up. But proving “potential” work is a difficult thing to do in Virginia. Remember, signed contracts are the easiest claims to make.
Can I claim for lost future earnings?
If you are unfortunate enough to have sustained an injury that requires long term recovery, and you anticipate lost future earnings, Virginia law does permit you to claim lost future earnings. However, again, you must have the proof to back it up. Because it’s unlikely an insurance company is going to agree simply.
What exact evidence is required to show lost future earnings really depends on the case. And if your case requires a claim for lost future earnings, you will likely need to work with an attorney to discuss exactly how to prove the claim.
What if my injury required me to change jobs, I get paid more now, but I liked my old job better?
Let’s say before your accident you did manual labor. But because of your accident, you were forced to give that up, and now work in an office where you actually earn more money. Do you have a claim?
If Virginia, this claim is called Loss of Earning Capacity. And what it really boils down to is losing your ability to choose how to earn your living. What exact value the claim is worth will, of course, depends on the facts of your case. But it’s something that you shouldn’t overlook.