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Accidents can turn your life upside-down. Whether you work full-time, part-time or on a self-employed basis, the professional impact can be huge. Being forced to take time off can be a strain not just mentally and physically, but financially too.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, and you’ve lost income because of it, there’s a strong chance you can claim for loss of earnings. This applies regardless of whether the accident occurred in your workplace.
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Claiming for loss of earnings
Injuries come in various forms – as do valid claims. It might be that an accident has stopped you from working for a few days or weeks. Alternatively, your situation might be serious enough to prevent you from doing your job for months, years, or even indefinitely.
Whatever your circumstances, and whatever type of injury you’ve suffered, a loss of earnings claim requires evidence. The accident and injury need proof of their own, of course, – we’ll touch on this a little further down – but you’ll also need to verify the earnings you’ve lost.
What sort of evidence do I need to provide?
If you’re employed (rather than self-employed), the simplest way of proving how much income you’ve lost is through your most recent payslips. In many cases, payslips for the three months, or 13 weeks, prior to the accident will be enough, but you may need more. Bank statements can be used if necessary.
In straightforward cases, it’s then a case of calculating how long you’ve been unable to work and how much take-home pay you’ve missed out on. Be aware that the sum you’ll be due will reflect your net monthly pay – in other words, the income you normally receive after tax and national insurance contributions.
Issues such as overtime, bonuses, holiday allowances, pension payments and other perks can all be considered too, so long as you can prove you would otherwise have benefited from them. Where things like overtime are concerned, payslips of colleagues can provide useful evidence to back up your case.
If relevant, you may even be able to claim for loss of a potential promotion.
And don’t worry if you work erratic hours or have a variable wage from month to month. It’s often possible to look at previous payslips to come up with a figure that represents your average income.
What if I’m self-employed?
We deal with this question a lot. Although the claims tend to be slightly more complicated, you’re very much still entitled to claim for loss of earnings if you’re self-employed.
You’ll need to provide the last three years’ worth of your verified business accounts (or as close to three years as possible) to show your average earnings. This helps to work out the loss of profit caused by your accident.
Where feasible you should also show evidence of work projects that were in the calendar before the injury, but which became impossible to fulfil. Evidence of this kind might take the form of written instructions from a client, a pre-agreed contract that’s now been lost, or even a dated email exchange.
It’s also helpful to keep a careful record of the days you were (or still are) unable to work, as well as a detailed overview of your financial accounts.
What about future loss of earnings?
Happily, most loss of earnings claims are fairly small. But if you’ve been unlucky enough to suffer a serious accident, your claim might be far more significant. And if your capacity to work is still severely reduced, affecting your long-term prospects, the losses you’re suffering may well be substantial.
In this case, your claim could also include the loss of future earnings. This may also apply if you’ve returned to work, only to find that your injuries have forced you to stop again.
If you’re nearing retirement age, or have been involved in an extremely bad accident, it might be genuinely impossible for you to return to work at all. In this instance, your total losses could include your expected earnings up until the time you were likely to retire.
Most cases of this kind would use the standard retirement age, unless there was strong proof that you were due to carry on working beyond this time. Evidence such as a formal arrangement with your employer would be valuable here.
Self-employed workers can also potentially claim loss of earnings beyond retirement age – but again, a solid argument would be needed to support the case.
What if I’m struggling to pay the bills in the meantime?
If you’ve been forced to stop work for an extensive period, it can be possible to arrange for an interim payment from the insurers of the third party, if that party has admitted liability. In effect, it’s a way of receiving part of your compensation before a final decision has been made.
You’re also entitled to claim state benefits, although be aware that these payments would generally be deducted from any compensation you’re due for loss of earnings.
What about other losses I’ve incurred?
A personal injury claim normally has two parts: general damages and special damages.
General damages cover the pain, suffering and loss of quality of life that you’ve had to deal with, as a result of your injury.
Special damages cover loss of earnings, as well as material expenses such as medical and physio treatment, transport costs to appointments and prescription charges. Other recoverable expenses that fall into this category could include unused gym memberships, missed cultural or sporting events (assuming tickets had already been purchased), and even clothing and personal effects damaged in the accident.
If you’ve had to employ tradespeople to take on tasks around the house that you would otherwise have done yourself, it may also be possible to add these expenses to a claim. Ensure you keep all receipts.
How long will a claim take?
The process of claiming can take several months, so it’s always advisable to get in touch early.
Personal injury claims like this can sometimes seem complicated, but in many cases they’re more straightforward than you’d think. We’ll always advise you on the best course of action for your individual circumstances, to ensure you don’t miss out on the compensation you’re entitled to.
Any other questions? Feel free to ask one below or get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.