One of the major categories of damages sought by most personal injury claimants is lost wages. Lost wages refer to the income you otherwise would have received were it not for the accident and/or injury. A defendant in New Mexico may be legally responsible for paying for your lost wages – both past and future – if found liable for the accident. Find out how much a defendant may owe you in lost wages based on the amounts recoverable in New Mexico.
Past Lost Wages
First, you have the right to list the wages you have already lost because of the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing. Include any daily wages you would have earned were it not for your accident in your calculations. Write down the number of workdays or shifts you had to miss while staying in the hospital or receiving medical care. Also include any tips, overtime, bonuses, perks, benefits, special projects or additional income you likely would have received during your time away from your job.
You will be able to list as many days of lost wages as it takes to recover from your injuries and return to work at your normal capacity, as long as you have the medical documentation to back up your claim. If you were able to return to work at partial capacity, such as part-time instead of full-time or at a different position that offers less pay, you could list the difference between what you used to make and what you make now as part of your lost wage demand. You can use previous paystubs, invoices (if you are self-employed), tax return documents, letters from your employer and your medical records to prove your lost wages in a personal injury claim.
Sick Leave, Vacation Time, Benefits and Work Opportunities
Next, calculate your losses in terms of employment benefits and job opportunities. If your employer offers you paid sick leave, vacation time and other employee benefits that you had to use because of your personal injury, add these to your personal injury settlement formula. It does not matter if you already received wages for time missed through the employment benefits your job offers. You could still add this amount to your lost income claim as recoverable damages for which the defendant owes you.
If you lost work-related opportunities because of your injury, include an estimate of how much money they likely would have made you. These could include placement on special projects, overtime opportunities, taking someone else’s shift, commissions, job interviews, promotions, important sales meetings or new clients. A lawyer could help strengthen your claim to this type of estimated lost income based on evidence such as your past employment history and information from your boss.
Future Lost Capacity to Earn
Finally, add your foreseeable future lost income due to ongoing symptoms or a permanent disability. If a doctor states you cannot safely return to the job you performed before your accident right away, you may be able to seek future lost earnings from the defendant. Your lawyer can estimate this amount with an equation such as multiplying your previous average daily wage by the number of days your doctor estimates you will have the injury. If the defendant gave you a permanent disability that will interfere with your ability to earn a living wage for the rest of your life, he or she could owe you compensation for a lifetime of lost wages and benefits, known as the lost capacity to earn.
It is important to recognize the full amount of past and future lost wages recoverable in your settlement before you accept an offer that does not do your damages justice. For help estimating your losses and negotiating a lost income award from an insurance company, contact a personal injury lawyer in Albuquerque.