According to the Arizona DOT, the state had almost 37,000 injury-causing car accidents in 2019 alone. If you have found it necessary to miss work as one of the many victims of these tragedies, we know that money may be tight. Filing a car accident claim could be a way to retrieve your lost wages.
So, how do you determine how much you’ve lost in wages? It’s not as simple as looking at your pay stub. Let our Folger Law team walk you through how to calculate lost wages for your car accident claim in Arizona.
How to Begin
To calculate any lost wage damages, you’ll need to start by gathering medical documents that support your claim that your injuries have prevented you from working. You’ll also need a disability slip or note from your doctor, asserting the amount of time off you will need for your recovery.
After you have those in place, ask your employer for copies of your recent paychecks or stubs to provide a record of your usual earnings. You should also request a letter from the employer that confirms your employment information. Lastly, depending on your employment status, you may need to submit the past year’s W-2 or tax return.
How to Calculate Lost Wages in Arizona
Calculating lost wages will differ based on whether you’re a salaried or hourly employee. If you earn an annual salary, take the total amount and divide it by the number of yearly weekday work hours, which is usually 2080. Once you work out this estimate of hourly pay, multiply the number by how many work hours you missed while recovering from your injuries.
To give you an example, if you made $50,000 per year on salary and the accident forced you to miss five days of work, your calculation would look like this:
($50,000 / 2080) x (8 hrs x 5 days) = total lost wages
Your lost wages, in this case, would be $961.54.
Arizona law entitles you to reimbursement for any income you lose due to your injuries. Income means earned wages plus any compensation you would typically receive above and beyond your salary. If you had to use your bonus days, vacation days, or sick days—or if you missed out on bonus pay or other benefits due to your injuries—you may be entitled to recover the cost of those as well.
As an Arizona resident, you can also collect for any missed employment perks. These perks include any type of non-monetary compensation you receive from your employer. Examples might be your company car, business vacations, or free recreational outings.
People often overlook perks when filing a car accident claim. You will need to tally these and add them to your claim yourself. Insurance adjusters won’t tell you how to add them, but doing so could increase the amount you receive in your final settlement.
How to Calculate Lost Wages If You’re Self-Employed
As an independent contractor, freelancer, or sole proprietor, you’ll need to claim lost income rather than lost wages. Lost income is the amount in profits and earnings you would have made during your recovery time. Any amount you calculate will still need proper documentation, such as:
- Receipts and invoices
- Contracts signed shortly before the accident
- The previous year’s tax return or 1099 forms
- Profit and loss statements from before and after your injury
- Bank statements with a record of your deposits
If you run a simple business, you may be able to collect your tax returns and financial statements to calculate lost income on your own. Remember to include your company’s average growth rate in your claim if it’s been steadily increasing over the last few years. For more complicated business structures, you might benefit from consulting a forensic accountant to predict future income.
Losing potential customers because of your injury can also count as lost income if you can provide proof. The best way to back up this kind of claim is to ask the lost customer to write a letter stating that they would have signed on if you hadn’t received an injury.
Additional Forms of Lost Wages
The law could entitle you to compensation for other income sources in addition to your past wages. These may include lost earning capacity or future income losses based on the severity of your injury. In these cases, the court will usually look at your disability, age, education, employment history, and skill level.
The Best Way to Recover Lost Wages
When filing a compensation claim: be honest. All of your documentation will be subject to scrutiny. If an insurance adjuster catches you padding your financial losses, it will destroy your credibility.
If you have an accountant, present them with your documentation and ask for a financial report that supports your calculations. By offering legitimate proof of your monetary loss, you’ll have a better chance of receiving compensation.
As the claimant, it’s your job to overcome the burden of proof. The process can certainly be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Call Folger Law Firm at (602) 932-0552 today for a free consultation – we don’t get paid unless you get paid.