Auto Accidents – Can You Recover Lost Wages?

You are the victim of an auto accident. You have medical bills, out-of-pocket medical and pharmacy costs piling up, not to mention significant pain and suffering. The accident has also kept you out of work.

​Can you get paid for your lost wages?

Absolutely. Georgia law allows victims of auto accidents and other personal injury cases to recover their lost wages from the at-fault party at trial. Therefore this is often a significant factor in placing the potential value on a case. When surgery or some other serious injury has kept a victim out of work for months at a time, these damages can be extremely large, especially if the earnings of the victim were substantial at the time of the accident.

The lost wages must be plead with some degree of certainty. The jury cannot speculate about how much the victim may have lost by being out of work. The burden of proof is on the victim to show a specific dollar amount that was lost due to the accident. It does not matter if the victim was eventually paid for these days of missed work by the employer, a long-term disability plan, or merely took sick days or vacation days to cover their time out. The loss is usually calculated by the average hourly rate the victim was paid, and how many hours they actually missed out of work. This is usually a matter of simple math that allows the jury to make an easy calculation to value actual lost earnings.

Future Lost Earnings and Lost Earning Capacity

A more subjective analysis in personal injury cases is when the injuries will significantly impair, or make it impossible, for the victim to earn the same living as a result of their injuries from the accident. This is most often a factor of damages when the victim has suffered a serious, permanent, life-changing type of injury. For instance, if the person suffers a significant brain injury, they may not be able to work the same office job that they hold now. This would open the door to significant damages for lost earning capacity, as the jobs they may now be capable of performing pay far less than their job prior to the accident. For example, imagine the victim was an IT professional making more than $100,000 a year prior to the accident. After the accident, they suffered head trauma that will make it impossible for them to perform their job. Instead, they will have to earn something closer to minimum wage for years, or possibly forever, due to this disability. The lost wages in that case would obviously be valued in hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions of dollars. If a victim is going to be a paraplegic or quadraplegic, loses a limb or has some other type of permanent disfigurement, that would seriously affect their employment, there could also be high lost earnings.

Proving these lost earnings often involves expert testimony from an actuary or economist who can testify as to how much money the victim was likely to earn over their career had they not been injured, versus how much they will likely earn now that they have suffered the debilitating injury.

If you have been injured in an accident in Georgia, call today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We take cases throughout the state of Georgia. Call (912) 999-2599, or submit an online form to set up a consultation.

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