Do car accident settlements consider lost income if my injury affects my job?

Question:

Do car accident settlements consider lost income if my injury affects my job?

Answer:

Yes. You are entitled to demand that the at-fault driver (usually through his or her insurance carrier) pay for all of your economic losses that can be attributed to the car accident. So, if you’re unable to work because of injuries or medical treatment stemming from the accident -- or if you’ve missed out on any kind of income, for that matter -- you’re entitled to recover “lost income” as a component of any car accident settlement you receive.

Lost income damages will be figured into any settlement along with other economic damages such as past and future medical treatment and damage to your vehicle.

(Note: In the dozen or so “no fault” states, there is typically a limit on the amount of lost income reimbursement you can receive after a car accident. Learn more about No-Fault Car Insurance Claims.)

But, like any other component of damages in a car accident case, you need to provide sufficient documentation of your lost income. If you have a full time job working for someone else, this is pretty easy to do. You can get records from your employer showing your regular pay rate, and the number of days and hours you missed because of your injuries (or because you had to attend medical appointments).

Even if you were able to use vacation, sick days, or other accrued paid time off (PTO) to cover your absence, you’re still entitled to get reimbursed for that time as lost income.

If you are self-employed or work only sporadically, it will be more of a challenge to prove your lost income. But you can gather any documentation that shows missed appointments, agreed-upon contracts or work orders, a drop in invoices or payments coming in, or anything else that shows work opportunities that you missed out on. You can also gather annual tax reports that show your income over recent years, and use those records to come up with a rough monthly income. (More: Checklist of Records to Gather After a Car Accident.)

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