Can I Be Reimbursed for Lost Wages After a Car Accident?
No one plans to get into a car wreck. When one happens, it can affect every aspect of your life. A car accident in Oklahoma City can interfere with your ability to work.
It can prevent you from caring for children or other family members. It can leave you scrambling to recover physically and emotionally.
If someone else has some responsibility in causing the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered.
At McGuire Law Firm in Oklahoma City, OK, we have years of experience in helping clients fight for the wages they lost due to a car accident, as well as assisting them in recouping any other damages they suffered.
What Are Lost Wages Under Oklahoma Law?
When you file a lawsuit against negligent parties, you are attempting to hold them legally responsible for the harm they have caused. That legal responsibility includes the income, wages, and the value of the benefits you lost due to the accident.
Oklahoma law also provides for “future damages” in 23 OK Stat § 23-9.3 (2014). Future damages are damages that can reasonably be expected to extend after a judgment. You can receive future damages for:
- Medical care and expenses related to custodial care
- Physical pain and impairment as well as mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of earnings
Are the injuries that you sustained in an automobile accident so severe that they may prevent you from earning future wages? If so, you may be compensated for the wages lost in the immediate aftermath of the accident as well as compensation for your future loss of earnings. The purpose of filing a lawsuit after a car accident is to pursue compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages can be categorized as:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Lost wages, both current, and future, fall under economic damages. The purpose of economic damages is to restore you to the financial place you would have been if the accident had never happened. Economic damages from a lawsuit can never replace intangibles like the satisfaction you might derive from doing your job. Still, they can help provide for you or your family if you find yourself unable to work for a period of time.
Hiring an experienced Oklahoma City car accident lawyer can make a substantial difference in the damages you receive. McGuire Law Firm can help make sure you receive everything you deserve if another party was responsible for your injuries.
How Are Lost Wages Calculated?
Simply put, lost wages are calculated by multiplying the money you would typically earn in a week or month by the time you have been unable to work. Future loss of income will be calculated using the same formula.
If you make $20 an hour and typically work a 40-hour workweek, but because of the car accident, you have been unable to work for six weeks:
- Your hourly wage ($20) would be multiplied by 40 hours per week, totaling $800 per week
- The weekly wage would then be multiplied by the number of weeks you were unable to work, which was six. Your total lost wages would be $4,800
- If you are paid a set annual salary, you would determine the amount of income you would have been paid in the six weeks
- You would determine that by taking your annual salary, dividing it by 52 for the number of weeks in a year, and then multiply that amount by six for the weeks you missed work
When calculating lost wages, you must also take into account time missed for follow-up appointments or physical therapy, even after you have returned to work. Whatever the amount of time you missed for work, you are entitled to receive compensation from the at-fault party.
What Happens If I Used Paid Time Off?
Employers often offer benefits such as paid time off (PTO) for sick days, personal time, and vacation time. You may have used some of these benefits to continue receiving income while recovering from your vehicle accident. You are not using these benefits for convenience or enjoyment, but because you may have no choice. The benefits are gone, and will not be available for you to use during the future.
You can seek compensation for the benefits you are forced to use as a result of your accident. To determine how much your paid time off is worth, you will calculate what you typically earn in a day, then multiply that by how many days of paid time off you took to recover from your injuries sustained in the accident. The reimbursement for paid time off that you were forced to use can be awarded, along with the lost wages.
Proving Lost Wages After an Accident
Income and wages you are unable to earn because of a car accident are eligible for compensation. To recover those damages, two things must be proven.
- The injury interfered with your ability to work—medical records or a letter from your doctor are usually sufficient to prove that you were unable to work for the time you are claiming lost wages.
- Documentation of the value of your claim—for lost wages, the easiest documentation includes tax returns, W2s, or pay stubs that show how much you were earning at the time of your accident.
Keeping records of all expenses, paperwork, and medical records after an accident is always a good idea. Even if you are not sure the documentation will be needed, or is relevant, you can always discard them after the case is settled.
Who is Responsible for Your Lost Wages After an Accident in Oklahoma City, OK?
Oklahoma uses comparative negligence rules. Comparative negligence essentially means that fault can be divided up between every party that may have contributed to the crash. If some fault for the accident is assigned to you, the lost wages and other damages you can recover will be diminished by how much it is determined you contributed to the cause of the accident. However, if you contributed more than fifty percent of the fault, you will be barred from receiving damages.
If you were 50 percent or less to blame, the other driver’s insurance provider should pay for your damages. If the damages you incurred exceed the limits of the policy, you can file a lawsuit directly against the other driver. You can pursue damages to cover both current and future lost wages.
Your insurance company may also pay if the other driver was uninsured if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy. However, uninsured motorist coverage often has a cap that only pays for damages to your car.
What if the At-Fault Party Was On the Clock at the Time of the Crash?
If the person who caused the automobile accident was driving during the course of their employment, their employer could be liable for the damages you sustained.
If a semi-truck rear-ended your car, the trucking company may be held liable for the actions of its driver. The same is true if it was a small company car and the person was running errands for their company but caused the accident in which you were injured.
What If I Got Hurt On the Job?
If you were driving a vehicle for a work-related activity at the time the accident occurred. The first step is to ascertain whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. Most employers are legally required to opt into a workers’ compensation system. If so, you may be able to file a claim.
Worker’s compensation is calculated based on your wages. However, keep in mind that it only replaces a portion of your income.
We’ll Investigate and Pursue Damages From All Responsible Parties
Anyone who contributes to your car accident in Oklahoma can potentially be financially and legally responsible for resulting damages. The damages you may be entitled to include income you have lost and income you will lose as a result of your injuries.
There can be more than one at-fault party responsible for the accident, so the accident must be investigated thoroughly. The McGuire Law Firm can provide a complete accident investigation that can pinpoint any parties who may have some responsibility in the accident.
We will then help you seek compensation from all parties who hold liability. These parties may include government agencies, manufacturers whose defective equipment contributed to the accident, other motorists, and transit companies.
You’ll Have a Limited Time to File a Claim and Pursue Lost Wages
Oklahoma has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Oklahoma Statutes section 12-95 sets the statute of limitations for filing a claim, unless it includes wrongful death, at two years from the date of the accident. If you miss the deadline, you might sacrifice the chance to recover the damages you incurred from the car crash and the opportunity to hold the responsible party accountable.
Call Our Injury Lawyers For Help Getting Lost Wages After an Oklahoma City Car Accident
If a car accident in Oklahoma has impacted your life, the Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers at McGuire Law Firm have the skills and experience to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. Our team will work tirelessly to make sure that all at-fault parties are held accountable for your injuries.