Who Pays for Lost Wages in a Car Accident?

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

One of the most pressing concerns for many victims after a car accident is the loss of income. If you’re unable to work due to injuries sustained in a car accident, the financial stress can be overwhelming. Understanding who is responsible for compensating you for lost wages is crucial. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, we have experience in navigating these complex situations to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Here’s a detailed look at how lost wages are handled in car accident cases.

What are Lost Wages from a Car Accident?

Who Pays for Lost Wages in a Car Accident

Lost wages refer to the income an individual cannot earn due to injuries sustained from a car accident. This financial loss can occur when the injuries prevent the victim from working temporarily or permanently, impacting their ability to earn their usual salary or wages. Understanding the concept of lost wages and how they can be compensated is essential for anyone involved in a car accident. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Types of Lost Wages

  • Temporary Lost Wages: These wages are lost when you are recovering but expected to return to work. For example, if you cannot work for three weeks while recovering from injuries sustained in an accident, you can claim the wages you would have earned during those three weeks.
  • Permanent Lost Wages: If your injuries result in a disability preventing you from returning to your previous job or working at all, you may be eligible to claim compensation for the wages you would have earned had the accident not occurred. This includes future earnings and potential career advancements.
  • Reduced Earning Capacity: Sometimes, injuries do not completely prevent a person from working but necessitate a change to a less demanding and lower-paying role. In such cases, you can claim the difference between your current and previous earnings.

How to Calculate Lost Wages

To calculate lost wages, you will need:

  • Pay Stubs and Employment Records: These documents help establish your average earnings before the accident.
  • Medical Documentation: Records from your doctor or hospital that outline your injuries and the expected recovery period, including any recommendations for reduced work hours or duties.
  • Employer Verification: A statement from your employer verifying your missed work days and any sick leave or vacation days you had to use due to your injuries.
    Importance of Documentation

Compiling comprehensive documentation is crucial in substantiating your claim for lost wages. Insurers will require clear and detailed evidence to verify the legitimacy of your claim. Proper documentation ensures a smoother process in claiming these losses and helps secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Other Compensation You May Be Entitled To

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, the financial impact can extend far beyond medical bills and lost wages. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, we understand that each car accident case involves a unique set of circumstances and potential damages. Here are additional forms of compensation that you may be entitled to, which we can help you recover:

Pain and Suffering

This non-economic damage compensates for the physical pain and emotional distress you have suffered as a result of the accident. Calculating pain and suffering can be complex as it doesn’t have a direct financial cost, but it is often a significant part of the compensation in serious injury cases.

Loss of Consortium

If you are married, your spouse may be able to claim loss of consortium. This type of compensation is related to the loss of the benefits of a family relationship, including companionship, affection, and support, due to the injuries from the accident.

Emotional Distress

Similar to pain and suffering, emotional distress compensates for the psychological impact of your injuries, which may include anxiety, depression, and PTSD. This compensation acknowledges the mental and emotional toll that a traumatic event like a car accident can have on a victim.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If your injuries prevent you from enjoying daily activities and hobbies you participated in before the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. This recognizes the diminishment of your quality of life.

Disfigurement and Permanent Disability

If the accident results in permanent physical changes that affect your appearance or capabilities, you might be entitled to compensation for disfigurement or permanent disability. This can cover ongoing disability and the costs of adapting to a new lifestyle.

Future Medical Expenses

For serious injuries, ongoing medical care may be necessary long after the accident. If your doctors anticipate that you will need continued medical treatments, surgeries, or therapy, you can claim future medical expenses.

Future Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

If your ability to work has been permanently affected, you may be entitled to compensation for future lost wages and the loss of earning capacity. This type of compensation considers the future income you will lose due to your injuries.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. These are not meant to compensate the victim but rather to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.

Who Pays for Lost Wages in a Car Accident?

In a car accident, compensation for lost wages is generally covered by insurance companies under the relevant policies, depending on the specifics of the accident and the jurisdiction in which it occurred. Here’s a breakdown of how lost wages are typically handled:

1. Your Own Auto Insurance Policy (No-Fault States)

In states with no-fault insurance laws, such as New York and Florida, your own auto insurance policy usually covers lost wages up to the policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) limits. This coverage is part of the no-fault system, designed to ensure prompt payment without the need to determine who was at fault for the accident. However, PIP coverage often has limits that may not fully cover high-income earners’ total lost wages or long-term losses.

2. The At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance

In states that operate under a traditional fault-based system, the insurance of the driver who is found legally responsible for the accident is typically liable for paying lost wages. If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover all damages, victims may need to rely on their own underinsured motorist coverage or pursue legal action to recover the full amount of lost wages.

3. Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage, your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage can come into play. This part of your auto insurance policy is specifically designed to cover losses, including lost wages, when the other party’s insurance is insufficient.

4. Workers’ Compensation (If the Accident Occurred While Working)

If you were involved in a car accident while performing job-related duties, workers’ compensation insurance would typically cover your lost wages, regardless of fault. This coverage provides a portion of your income along with medical benefits.

5. Legal Settlements

In cases of serious injuries where insurance coverage is inadequate to cover all losses, or if the insurance company disputes your claim, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. A successful legal claim can result in a settlement or court verdict that covers full compensation for all lost wages, both past and future.

How a New York City Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New York City, navigating the aftermath—especially the legal landscape—can be daunting. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, we have experience in helping accident victims navigate the complex world of insurance claims and legal proceedings to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Here’s how our experienced New York City car accident lawyers can assist you:

Experienced Guidance Through New York’s No-Fault Insurance System

New York is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that your insurance company will typically cover medical expenses and lost wages after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. However, no-fault laws can be complex, and the coverage may not fully compensate for your losses, especially in serious injury cases. Our car accident lawyers can help you understand your policy, handle claims processes, and ensure you receive the maximum benefits under your insurance.

Identifying Opportunities for Additional Compensation

If your injuries are severe, you may qualify to step outside the no-fault system and pursue additional compensation. Our car accident attorneys can assess your situation to determine if your injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold as defined by New York law. We can then claim against the at-fault driver to cover damages not handled by no-fault insurance, such as pain and suffering and full lost wages.

Navigating Complex Legal Claims

Filing a lawsuit in New York requires navigating complex legal procedures and strict deadlines. Our experienced car accident lawyers manage every aspect of your legal claim, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies and other parties involved. We ensure that your case is compelling, compliant with procedural rules, and filed within the legal time limits.

Maximizing Your Settlement

Insurance companies often attempt to minimize payouts. Our personal injury attorneys are skilled negotiators who know these companies’ tactics. We work tirelessly to ensure you get a fair settlement. If settlement negotiations do not make a satisfactory offer, we will take your case to trial to fight for your deserved compensation.

Providing Comprehensive Support

Recovering from a car accident is a stressful time filled with medical appointments, financial pressures, and emotional distress. Our team offers comprehensive support, handling all the legal details so you can focus on your recovery. We keep you informed at every step, providing peace of mind that your case is in good hands.

Ready to Claim What You Deserve? Contact Us Now.

Don’t navigate the aftermath of a car accident alone. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, we are here to ensure you receive every bit of compensation you are entitled to. Whether it’s medical costs, lost wages, or compensation for pain and suffering, our legal team is dedicated to securing your best possible outcome.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let’s start the journey toward justice and your full recovery. 


Recent Posts



Have Questions?

Get A Free Case Review

Fields marked with an * are required

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
New York Office

110 East 42nd Street
Suite 1508
New York, NY 10017

Phone: 212-571-7171

Fax: 212-571-7174

Elizabeth Office

609 Morris Avenue
Elizabeth, NJ 07208

Phone: 201-659-4144

Fax: 212-571-7174

Garden City Office

1461 Franklin Ave, Suite 2SE
Garden City, NY 11530

Phone: 516-747-7472

Fax: 212-571-7174

Stamford Office

1010 Washington Boulevard
Stamford, CT 06901

Phone: 203-862-8699

Fax: 212-571-7174