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Lost Wages After Car Accident

July 15, 2019

Recovering financially after a car accident in Colorado takes a few steps as an injured victim. The first is to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. A successful insurance claim could pay for various damages. It can provide funds to repair your vehicle, reimburse you for medical expenses and make up for other losses. If you wish to seek maximum compensation for additional damages, such as lost wages or pain and suffering, however, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a car accident attorney.

Woman driving car during rush hour traffic

What Are Lost Wages?

Lost wages refer to income you likely would have made at your job had the car accident not interfered with your ability to work. As a working adult in Colorado, you might have had to give up wages for a variety of reasons. Reasons may include trips to the hospital, visiting your doctor, undergoing medical treatments or dealing with vehicle repairs. A temporary disability from an auto accident could force you out of work for an extended time. Lost wages can include many different missed job-related payments and opportunities to earn.

  • Missed paychecks
  • Used sick days or vacation days
  • Missed earning opportunities (e.g. overtime, extra shifts, special projects)
  • Potential promotions or raises
  • Lost future earning capacity

Lost capacity to earn refers to future income you will foreseeably lose due to a temporary or permanent disability. If a physician recommends you stay home from work or work at a lower level than you used to, you may be eligible to recover the difference between what you used to make and what you can make now. If you cannot work at all because of a disability, you could qualify for damages to cover all foreseeable lost wages.

How to Recover Lost Wages After an Auto Accident

An insurance company could reimburse you for lost wages after a car accident if you follow the proper claim procedures. To recover lost wages, you will typically need to prove that these losses exist. You may do this with a doctor’s note, a letter from your employer, wage documents or paystubs. Any documentation that shows you lost money from work because of the car accident and your subsequent injuries could suffice as proof for an insurance claim.

Many insurance companies will require claimants to submit to independent medical examinations before agreeing to provide compensation for damages such as lost wages. An independent medical examination is an appointment with a doctor of the insurance company’s choosing. This will help prevent biases that could come from your personal physician. You will need to sign a release form giving the insurance company permission to access your medical records.

You will then need to submit proof of lost wages to the insurance company. If you need help with your burden of proof in the state of Colorado, contact a Denver personal injury attorney. An insurance company may offer lost wage reimbursement if the at-fault party’s policy has bodily injury liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist or personal injury protection coverage. Should an insurance claim fail to properly reimburse you for lost wages, your other course of action could be a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

When to Bring a Car Accident Lawsuit

A lawsuit could result in better compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses than an insurance claim in Colorado. A lawsuit might be appropriate if you have proof that another driver was negligent or reckless, and that his or her actions caused your crash. Potential defendants include a driver, an auto part manufacturer and the city. If a lawyer believes you have grounds for a lawsuit, bringing this action could result in full lost-wage reimbursement.

You have three years from the date your car accident occurred to file a personal injury claim against one or more defendants in Colorado. If you are only filing a claim regarding damage to personal property, the statute of limitations is three years. Recovering lost wages through an injury claim is similar to an insurance claim; you or your lawyer will need to prove the existence of lost wages to obtain reimbursement.