When you are injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you know that you have the right to recover several types of economic damages, including lost wages. So, you arrive for your free case evaluation with a Miami car accident attorney and they ask for a paycheck to calculate your lost wages. But you are self-employed and cannot produce this type of document. Does it mean that you cannot recover the financial loss for the period when you cannot work?
That is not something you have to worry about. Any self-employed person who works under contract with various clients can prove how much money they earn per week or per month. A Miami car accident lawyer will instruct you regarding the types of documents that prove the sources and value of your earnings.
However, we will also give a general overview in this article, so that you can make the most of your initial consultation with an attorney.
Understanding the Difference: Loss of Future Earnings vs. Loss of Earning Capacity
In general, a car accident victim needs several weeks or months to recover from their injuries. This means that when you file a car accident claim, your lawyer will have to estimate the loss of future earnings. This amount represents the average weekly income you usually make multiplied by the number of weeks until you can resume your activities as a self-employed person.
However, there is another type of damage that you may recover: loss of earning capacity. This means that you are no longer able to perform the work you have done up to the date of the accident. Loss of earning capacity can be disastrous for a self-employed person. You are specifically trained for an activity and you can no longer perform it. You may retrain for a different type of activity and end up earning less.
In general, you can claim loss of earning capacity if you suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries, resulting in permanent disability. You can rest assured that a Miami car accident attorney will make a fair evaluation both for the loss of future earnings and for the loss of earning capacity.
Categories of Lost Wages You Can Recover in Car Accident Claim
The term lost wages has a general character and includes several types of benefits and forms of income. These are:
- Regular pay, either per hour or per project
- Lost business opportunities
- Loss of client goodwill.
The last two types of losses are specific to self-employed persons and can be quite significant. You may be in the process of getting a new project when you were hurt in the car accident. Or you may be unable to deliver a project with a specific deadline you agreed to in the contract with the client.
In some cases, you may lose clients and even get negative ratings and reviews for the failure to deliver the work you agreed to undertake. A Miami car accident lawyer will take into account all the types of economic damages you suffered after your car accident.
What Documents Will Prove Lost Wages for a Self-Employed Person?
Whether you work as a freelancer or independent contractor, you most definitely have the possibility of proving how much money you make. A lawyer will instruct you to submit the following types of documents:
Past Tax Forms
Any tax return forms, including 1099 forms from clients are accepted as supporting documents in justifying your claim for lost wages. The forms for the last 3-4 years will help a Miami car accident attorney will be able to determine your average annual income. This value will be divided accordingly to reach the value of lost wages you incur while you recover from your accident injuries.
Invoices Issued to Clients
Any invoices you issue to clients on per month or per-project basis are extremely useful. They show how much you usually earn from each client over a given period of time and will justify the amount you seek to recover from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
As a self-employed person, you are not legally obliged to have a separate bank account for business purposes. But many people have it because it is easier to check when each client pays and also for tax purposes.
It will also be easier for a Miami car accident lawyer to calculate lost wages if you can produce a bank statement showing only the income you obtain from your activity.
Sworn Statements From Your Clients
As a self-employed person, you must have several clients with whom you have long-term collaborations and who appreciate your work. They will certainly not refuse to offer you a sworn statement indicating how much they pay per hour or per project for your work.
Also, they can provide insights into the value of the projects you were working on when the accident happened, and which you are unable to complete according to the agreement you had with the client.
Will You Recover the Entire Amount of the Lost Wages?
When it comes to a car accident or any other personal injury case, Florida law states that the fault of all the parties involved must be determined. The comparative fault principle applicable in our state does not bar anyone from seeking recovery. However, their total damages will be reduced by their respective percentage of fault.
Therefore, all medical costs, lost wages, expenses, and non-economic damages are added up and the percentage of fault is deducted. For instance, if you are 50% at fault and your total damages amount to $50,000, you will recover only $25,000.
Schedule a Free Case Review With an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer!
Our team of seasoned accident attorneys in Miami can tackle any complex case. As a self-employed person, it will be a little more difficult to determine an accurate value for lost wages. But, as we explained in this article, it is not impossible.
At the same time, we will analyze your case carefully in order to determine your true proportion of fault. An insurance adjuster will always try to increase this because it means they will pay less. However, we do not let them get away with this tactic.
Do not let too much time pass after your car crash. Schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible by calling 786-686-2857!