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Unable to Work After Car Accident: How to Claim Lost Wages

You find yourself with temporary or permanent injuries incurred in a car accident where you were not at fault. You either have to take an extended period off from work to allow your injuries to heal, or your injuries are so serious that you can never return to your current occupation.

You are staring financial disaster in the face with no money coming in. Not only do you have medical bills to contend with, but more importantly, how are you going to support your family with day-to-day expenses? Your loss in wages and loss of potential earnings should be compensated, enabling you to, once again, be the breadwinner of your family, earning money.


Have you suffered an injury, loss, or damages due to a car accident caused by negligence? If so, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, the personal injury attorneys for car accident victims, will advise you regarding:

  • Your legal rights
  • Identifying who is liable for your damages
  • How you can receive maximum compensation for your injury
  • A personal injury lawsuit

Call our Chicago car accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free case review with a free consultation.

Unable to Work After Car Accident: How to Claim Lost Wages

Calculating Your Losses If You Are Unable to Work

There are three ways income losses are calculated when an accident victim is no longer able to work and earn money: lost wages, future lost earnings, and lost opportunities.

Lost Wages

Lost wages are your income or any form of financial earnings (stocks, dividends, allowances) lost due to disability, sickness, or severe injury, and the recovery time incurred in a car wreck.

The calculation of lost wages includes the following:

  • Estimation of all the shifts and days you missed work due to your specific injuries
  • Estimated sick days, paid time off, and the vacation time you took due to your accident-related injuries. Sick and vacation days are calculated at the same rate that you earn per day, or the total of all shifts worked in one day.
  • Estimation of overtime pay
  • Commissions and bonuses
  • Alternative financial incomesuch as stocks and bonds

Future Lost Earnings

Future earnings could be lost after suffering severe injuries that keep the victim from returning to work temporarily or permanently.

Lost Opportunities

For victims of car accidents, this is the most difficult ‘loss’ to calculate, as it works primarily with proposed opportunities - equaling an earning capacity - that would have been offered in the future.

Loss of Income When Self-employed

Injured people that work for themselves have a less consistent income that varies from week to week. Calculations can be estimated over a select period to gain a picture of income and how offers for work after a car accident have changed.

Enabling the recovery of lost wages can be aided by the following documents:

  • Report from your doctor detailing his recommendations and findings regarding your injuries, sick leave, and relevant medical records. The report must mention that your car accident injury prevented you from working
  • A police report of the accident
  • Tax returns for previous years, showing a loss of earnings in the current year
  • 1099s and other tax forms
  • Proof of every canceled appointment you could not keep due to your car accident injury.
  • Proof of every contract, agreement, and the project you could not fulfill due to your injuries

How to Prove Loss of Income

How to Prove Loss of Income?

Whatever you submit must show your loss of work after a car accident. The most important step is proving that your injuries warranted when you took off your job or changed occupation. The following documentation will assist you in recovering compensation:

  • Letter from your employer detailing your requests and dates for paid sick leave and time off work. It can be requested from the human resources department.
  • Every form of proof of income from your employer, such as pay stubs
  • Income tax returns, showing your potential lost earning capacity
  • W2s and other tax documents
  • Employers/company vacations and sick day policy
  • Employee contract with employer or company
  • Union contracts

Allowing your attorney to assist will ensure that you are fully compensated for all income, wages, and benefits lost due to your car accident injuries.

Claiming Loss of Income From an Insurance Policy

You can claim compensation from the following coverage plans on your insurance when you experience a loss of income due to an accident:

Liability Bodily Injury Coverage

For injuries in car accidents due to the negligence of other drivers, you can claim against their at-fault liability coverage to recover compensation when you had to miss work and experienced a loss of income.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If an accident occurred and you were injured due to the other driver's negligence, and they are uninsured or underinsured, you can file a claim against your insurance company. It will be against your car insurance policy's uninsured or underinsured coverage to compensate for the loss of income or lost wages and injuries.

Personal Injury Protection Coverage

Personal Injury Protection plans allow you to recover lost wages and file an injury claim, even if you were responsible for the car crash. This coverage is a requirement in some states. It will pay to recover damages for injury, medical bills, medical treatment, and loss of income or lost wages up to the policy limit when you are an accident victim.

Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits

There are three benefits available to victims of car accidents who are unable to work and earn pay and are now stranded without income due to temporary or permanent injuries:

Short-term Disability

Short-term disability is a program run by five states (California, Hawaii; New Jersey; New York, and Rhode Island) with no grant from the federal government. The state offers this coverage and is generally funded by the employer.

The goal is to assist those battling short-term medical conditions or complications that are not work-related and prevent them from working for a while.

Application for short-term disability benefits can only be made if you are not already receiving SSDI or SSI benefits. First short-term disability benefits are available to claimants in as little as eight days, depending on the state-specific program.

Eligibility for short-term disability benefits are:

  • Residence in one of the five states offering the program
  • Employment must be for a specific period
  • Minimum income requirements
  • Disability, illness, or serious injury cannot be work-related
  • Appropriate documentation of disability must be provided
  • Benefits cannot be drawn longer than 30 weeks, or 52 weeks if you reside in California

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Almost every person who works or has worked has invested a portion of their earnings into the FICA taxes, which fund the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

There are two requirements needed to register for SSDI benefits:

Being ‘Fully Insured.’

‘Fully insured’ means that you have four ‘quarters of coverage’ with a minimum of earnings of $1510 (2022 amount) per year. You need a certain number of quarters of coverage (QC) to qualify for disability benefits. One QC for every three months. An example would be if you were 31, you would need 20 QC’s in the last ten years, with those under 31 having special rules.

Being Disabled

Having a medical impairment prevents you from working for at least 12 months or is likely to result in death. SSDI has a requirement that states you cannot perform your past work or any other work to be found disabled.

The average payment in 2022 made to a disabled employee is $1358 per month, and to a disabled employee, with a spouse and two children, $2383 per month. There is a mandatory waiting period of 5 months after your disability before you can start receiving any benefits.

Supplemental Security Income(SSI)

SSI is a needs-based program developed for beneficiaries who do not have the required earnings for SSDI payments or disabled workers with a low-income bracket. The SSI benefits can add to their monthly income.

There are SSI programs for the disabled, the blind, and the aged, with each state requiring different income levels to be eligible for the SSI benefits. SSI programs have no earnings requirements, although the criteria recognized as ‘disabled’ are the same as SSDI benefits.

Car Crash Injuries Qualifying For Disability Benefits

Hire a Car Accident Attorney to Resolve Your Compensation Claim

Did you suffer a property loss or injured in a car accident? Contact our Chicago car accident lawyer as soon as possible, and allow them to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law firm remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC accepts all personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures our clients have legal representation immediately without paying any upfront costs.

Our "No-Win/No-Fee" guarantee is simple: We do not get paid if you do not win! Our law firm advances all expenses included in resolving a car accident claim and only gets paid when negotiating a settlement or winning a jury trial award.

Call our car accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation and case evaluation.


Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa