Someone crashed into your car, leaving you with a broken arm and serious neck pain. You're unable to return to your job because you need to undergo medical treatment for weeks. Your employer tells you that you're discharged because they can't leave your position vacant. As a result, you're now unemployed with no source of income.
What can you do? Can you sue the other driver for your lost job? Read on to find out what damages you can recover due to losing your job.
Types of Damages for Lost Job
Generally, if the other driver caused the accident, you may be entitled to recover damages for any earnings or income lost due to accident injuries. If your employer discharged you because you're unable to work in your medical condition, you could sue the other driver for two types of damages:
- Special damages
- General damages
First, you can claim special damages, which include loss of income, wages, profits, benefits, and business opportunities. You'll likely be entitled to the amount of income that you would have earned if you weren't injured in a car accident. Loss of income is calculated from the time of the accident to the date when your medical condition is stable.
Second, you can also claim general damages, which is a broad category of losses that are difficult to assign a specific monetary value. General damages include future loss of earnings and lost earning capacity.
To recover future loss of earnings and earning capacity, you need to show that you had the potential to earn that amount of money. Unlike special damages that use your actual wages to calculate the amount, the court will estimate your earning capacity by comparing your abilities before and after the injury.
How To Make a Claim for a Lost Job
To recover damages after losing your job, you'll need proof of the medical condition that prevented you from returning to your job. Typically, you'll need to submit a doctor's note, disability slip, and any medical records describing your injuries.
You'll also need to submit a letter from your employer stating that you are being discharged and proof of your income. The letter should state that your termination relates to your accident injuries.
Depending on which state you're in, your personal injury lawsuit may be subject to certain limitations, like damages caps. It is unlikely that you'll recover loss of earnings for an indefinite period of time. Some states cap non-economic damages you can recover to a certain dollar amount. Make sure you check your state's laws to ensure you're not requesting more than the law allows.
Your Duty to Mitigate
In some personal injury cases, you must do everything to mitigate damages, even if you didn't cause the accident.
For example, after you've recovered from your injuries, you can't just rest at home and expect to get compensated for those days. You will need to try your best to find a new job as soon as you are able to work. The amount of your damages will be reduced if the court determines you were able to work and made no effort to do so.
Lost Wages and Insurance Company Involvement
Lost wages refer to the amount of income you would have earned from your job had you not gotten injured. They are typically part of the compensation accident victims may claim from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. To prove the amount of wages you lost, you will need to show proof of your typical earnings through documents like pay stubs, tax returns, or a letter from your employer.
Keep in mind that insurance companies are often motivated to minimize their payouts after an auto accident. Thus, it may be beneficial to hire a personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf and ensure you receive fair compensation for your lost wages, missed work, and car accident injuries.
The Insurance Claim Process and Medical Expenses
After a car crash, one of the first steps you should take is to file an insurance claim. It's best to inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible and provide details about your injuries and medical treatment.
You will need to include all your medical bills in the claim, which can help you get reimbursement for your medical expenses. If the other driver is at fault, you can file a claim with their insurance company. Disclaimer: their insurance policy may have a limit on how much it will cover.
Self-Employed and Lost Income
If you're self-employed and have lost income due to a car accident, it may be difficult, but you can still make a claim for compensation. Your lost income will be calculated based on your previous tax returns, lost business opportunities, and any decline in your business revenue. You might need an expert, such as an accountant, to provide evidence of your lost income.
Detailed business records can provide evidence of lost income. These might include things like invoices, contracts, or financial statements. They can also provide evidence of ongoing expenses you had to pay even while you were not earning income, like rent or salaries for employees.
If your business was growing rapidly before the accident, your losses might be higher than simply looking at the previous years' income would suggest. You might need to bring in an accountant or financial analyst to provide evidence of this growth trend.
Costs to Replace You
If you had to hire someone to run your business while you were recovering, the costs of this replacement could be claimed as part of your losses. These costs might include not just wages but also the time and expense of training the replacement.
Can You Sue for a Lost Job From a Car Accident? Get Legal Advice From a Car Accident Lawyer
If a serious injury prevented you from returning to your job, it's probably in your best interests to contact a personal injury lawyer. You may be able to sue for a lost job due to a car accident, but the litigation process often involves complex analysis and numerous obstacles. Get help for your motor vehicle accident case and learn more about your legal rights by contacting a local car accident attorney for a free case review.
Remember, there is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. You have a limited time to seek damages from the negligent party for your injuries. That's why it's best to set up a free case evaluation as soon as possible.