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Recovering Lost Wages After a Washington Car Accident

February 13, 2023

The aftermath of a car accident extends far beyond the initial period of treatment and recovery from your injuries during the first days and weeks. Often the accident has far-reaching or long-term consequences not only for your physical injuries but also for your family’s economic well-being. With medical bills coming in and missed paychecks impacting your budget, you might be thinking about how to recover the income you’ve lost due to your accident, especially when it’s the fault of someone else.

How can you recover your lost wages after a car accident? Fortunately, Washington law provides legal recourse for accident victims to gain compensation for the income they’ve lost due to injuries, treatment, and recovery time after an accident.

Recovering Lost Wages After a Washington Car Accident

How You Can Claim Compensation for Your Lost Wages

The economic impacts of an accident can quickly snowball under the combination of mounting medical bills and missed work days. By filing an accident claim against the party responsible for your accident you can gain compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical costs and future medical expenses for any further treatment
  • Lost wages from missed days of work
  • Future lost wages for planned surgeries or physical therapy
  • Diminished earning capacity in cases of accident-caused disability
  • Pain and suffering

By filing a claim against the party at fault in an accident, you can recover your lost income as well as medical costs and compensation for the pain and anguish caused by the accident. A Seattle auto accident attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to craft a compelling legal case proving liability on the part of the at-fault party and showing proof of the economic damages you’ve suffered, including lost wages.

How Does an Accident Victim Calculate Lost Wages?

For employees who earn an hourly rate, calculating and proving lost wages is fairly easy. You and your attorney will need to gather proof of your income such as recent pay stubs and your tax documents. A statement from an employer detailing your missed hours proves your lost earnings. By multiplying your hourly income by the number of hours you missed you’ll arrive at a total.

Salaried employees should first find their average hourly rate by dividing their annual pay by the number of their work hours in a year. Then calculate missed pay by multiplying that amount by the number of hours you’ve missed. Accident victims should also determine any amount they’ve missed in benefits, bonuses, commissions, and any other lost income.

Future lost income for injury victims facing surgery, physical therapy, or ongoing procedures and treatments can be shown through medical expert testimony, doctor statements, and the victim’s employer.

Proving Liability in Order to Gain Compensation for Damages, Including Lost Wages

Washington’s system of comparative negligence for accidents means it matters which party was at fault. Proving fault not only requires evidence of how the car accident occurred but also requires meeting the legal requirements for liability in Washington. This leaves the plaintiff with the burden of proving the following:

  • That the at-fault person or entity had a duty of care to keep others safe on the roads by driving with reasonable care and following traffic laws
  • That the at-fault person breached this duty of care with an act of negligence, recklessness, and wrongdoing
  • That the breach of this duty of care directly led to the accident and caused the injury
  • That the injury caused economic and non-economic damages to the victim

Once this burden of proof is met, the injury victim is entitled to full compensation for their damages including their lost wages, typically paid by the insurance company of the at-fault victim.

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