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Steps on How to Document Lost Wages

written by: J.P. McMillian•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/19/2010

When you are involved in an accident and have injuries that prohibit you from working you are entitled to lost wages. These are some tips on how to maximize what you get from the insurance company.

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    If you are involved in an auto accident claim, you might be entitled to lost wages. Lost wages are the amount of money you could have earned if you had been physically able to work, but couldn't because of the auto accident. This can be a costly result of an insurance claim and you must properly document everything in order to receive the full amount due to you.

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    You must obtain documentation from your doctor that you received treatment and were unable to perform work duties for a specified amount of time. The doctor will list you as either partially disabled or fully disabled and what you receive from insurance will be affected by this. If you are fully disabled, then you should receive full benefits for lost wages; if you are partially disabled, then you will generally receive about 50 percent for lost wages. When you receive this document from your doctor inspect it to make sure the dates are correct.

    Also, you must obtain a letter from your employer on company letterhead stating the dates you were unable to attend work because of your medical condition. This letter should include your name, position, pay, hours normally worked, and hours and days missed. It should also include any vacation or sick days taken as a result from the injury.

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    Overtime and Commissions

    Overtime and commissions that you could have reasonably earned should be calculated in your total for lost wages. You cannot, however, expect to be paid this simply from your word. You should ask your employer to include these numbers in their letter to the insurance company and reference sales and overtime numbers from previous years. This is all used to show that you earned the amount in the past and could have reasonably expected to earn it this year if you were physically able to.

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    Sick Leave and Vacation Time

    You are entitled to compensation for sick leave and vacation days you had to take because of your injuries. There is a financial loss by taking this time off, and it might require taking unpaid days off later in the year because you are out of paid sick and vacation days. Again, document these days and have your employer include them in her letter.

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    It can be more difficult to document lost wages if you are self-employed. As before, it is important to document every amount of money you lost or had to spend that is a result of your injuries. If you had to hire new temporary employees or increase hours to make up for not being able to work yourself, then you should list these expenses. Also, you should document any appointments you had to cancel or opportunities you missed as a result of the accident. Keep track of days you missed and how much money you typically earn per day. Tax returns from previous years can help to prove how much you earn and how much was lost as a result of missing work.