When you've been injured in an accident, its understandable that you may not be able to do your job. Your injuries may prevent you from working altogether, or you may have a partial disability that prevents you from doing portions of your job. Perhaps you are able to work, but you may have to take time off of work to attend appointments for doctors visits, physical therapy or medical tests such as an MRI. The law allows you to include in your injury claim loss of income. BUT, proving those losses requires very specific documentation. Without it, an insurance company will not consider your loss of earnings as part of your claim, and a jury will not include loss of earnings damages in a verdict.
If you're injured to the extent that you cannot work, either full duty or light duty, you MUST have a note or report from your doctor stating that you cannot work. Without documentation from a doctor, your time off of work will be unsupported and not proven to be connected to your injuries. Disability from work is a medical concept that requires a doctor's confirmation. The doctor will typically provide a limited number of days off work in the beginning. If your disability is longer than the first few days, you must return to the doctor to have your disability extended and renewed as long as you are unable to do your job.
Once you have medical support for your time off of work, you will need to establish the value of your time. Typically, this will be your rate of pay. It is easy to calculate your loss of income where you have a rate of pay that can be calculated as an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly rate. It becomes a matter of math. Unfortunately, this calculation is anything but easy for self employed people.
For the self employed, it is more difficult to prove a loss of income. Most self employed people are paid based upon the profitability of their businesses. This does not lend itself to easy calculation on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. Extended time away from work can be analyzed by comparing earnings during a similar period of time before the injury. A self employed person can hire someone to cover for him or her to keep the business going, and can claim that expense in addition to or instead of a loss of income. It is important that a self employed person keeps records showing the profitability of the business to support any loss of income.
Additional Things to Know About Proving Loss of Income:
- You don't have to be employed or have a job to claim loss of income. Even if you don't have a job you may be able to prove a loss of income by establishing the value of your time in other ways.
- If you have been working “under the table” and your employer is not taking payroll tax deductions from your paycheck, you will probably NOT be alboe to prove your loss of income. Why? Because your employer is not likely to be willing or able to produce supporting documentation of your income because he would be exposing himself to presecution for failing to take payroll deductions and provide workers' compensation insurance for you, as required by law.
- It does not hurt your case if you try to return to work as soon as possible. If you are able to do it, consider yourself lucky. If you can't, at least you can say that you tried. Juries love people who try, even if they fail.
- Keep track off your timee off of work in a calendar or journal. It will be a great memory-refresher later on if you need to testify in a deposition. It will also help to distinguish time off work for accident related reasons as opposed to missing time for other reasons, such as the flu or other illness.
- Loss of earnings can include future loss of income. If you lose a good paying job due to an accident, and you cannot find another job that pays as well, you may be able to claim ongoing loss of income into the future.
- Loss of income can include retraining to qualify you for another job if your injuries prevent you from returning to the kind of employment you had or the type of employment you have been trained to do.