When you are seriously injured in a car accident, you often can’t return to work right away. That means you can’t make money to pay your rent, utilities, buy groceries or even fund medical bills, therapy sessions, and other expenses you’re now dealing with. If you are self-employed, the burden is heavier. Instead of relying on an employer who might provide paid leave and sick time, you have no one to rely on but yourself.
Despite how it may feel now, there is hope. If the other driver was at fault for your crash, you might be able to recover compensation to account for your lost income. That’s true even if you’re self-employed. Claiming lost wages for self-employed people in Washington State (or any other US state) can be difficult, but with the right lawyer, it is possible. Read on to know more about how you can claim lost wages in Washington State due to a car accident.
Claiming Lost Wages: Self-Employed vs. Employee
Proving a wage loss claim even when you are self-employed is possible. But it often requires more effort than claiming lost wages as an employee. For a regular employee, claiming lost wages due to a car accident is relatively straightforward. You already have proof of your earnings — your most recent paycheck.
However, if you are self-employed, claiming lost wages after a car accident isn’t so simple. You might have multiple sources of income, and these sources might vary from week to week or month to month. You aren’t just providing one paycheck and one simple calculation. Instead, you have to find a way to prove what you would have earned from all of your income sources, had you not been injured.
How Lost Wages Are Defined for Self-Employed Individuals
The hard truth is that you won’t be able to recover compensation for car accident lost wages when self-employed unless you have clear proof of the wages you have lost. But how do you prove that you have lost income when you are self-employed?
You have to present evidence of every source of income and demonstrate what your total likely would have been based on past earnings, recent and upcoming work, and past tax returns. Some possible types of lost income for self-employed people who have been hurt in auto accidents include:
- Lost earnings from an ongoing contract that’s paid weekly or monthly
- Lost business opportunities
- Lost goodwill with existing clients and customers you couldn’t deliver for during your recovery
Now that you have identified the areas where your income might come from, the next step is to prove that wages and opportunities have been lost.
How to Prove Lost Income and Wages
The above items are not likely to provide exact amounts. Unfortunately, proving a wage loss claim when you’re self-employed usually involves some estimation. Here are some of the documents you can use to prove your injuries and estimate lost wages due to a car accident:
- Recent invoices. If you issue invoices to clients, you may use the most recent ones to show how much you typically earn from each client. Copies of recently paid invoices can help compute your car accident lost wages.
- Past tax forms. Tax documents like 1099 forms or even completed past tax returns can show what you typically earn in a year. If your recovery period after the crash lasted six months, you could divide your typical yearly earnings by half to show how much income you likely lost.
- Statements from clients. If you have good relationships with your clients, you may be able to ask them for a written statement detailing your working relationship with them and how many hours of paid work you missed after your crash.
- Medical documents. Your doctor can provide medical documents that detail your injuries. While these documents do not show lost income, they can show that your doctor advised you to take time off of work due to your physical state.
Once you’ve gathered your supporting documentation, your next move is to calculate your lost wages.
How to Compute Lost Wages for the Self-Employed
Calculating lost wages as a result of injuries from a car accident when self-employed comes with some challenges. If you are a salaried or hourly employee, the calculation is relatively simple.
Calculating car accident lost wages gets a lot trickier when you are self-employed, though. Using a combination of your tax returns, recent invoices, upcoming and/or lost contracts, and estimations of the value of missed business opportunities and lost goodwill with clients, you can estimate how much you lost during your recovery. Keep in mind that you must include in the calculation any portion of shared fault you hold for the accident.
Clearly, you can make mistakes in this process. And mistakes can cost you dearly at a time when you need every cent to get your life back on track. To make matters worse, in Washington State, you only have three years from your crash to file your claim. That’s why hiring a car accident lawyer can be so helpful for self-employed car accident victims.
Next Step to Proving Lost Wages: Hire an Attorney
An experienced personal injury lawyer will know where to look to find the best estimates of how much self-employed income you have lost. Car accident lost wages for the self-employed can be complex to calculate, but a lawyer can help you rest assured that you are seeking the highest possible amount for your losses.
For help with your car accident lost wages claim, reach out to the trusted lawyers at Will & Will. With more than 35 years of combined experience, the highest possible marks for professionalism, and the reliability to serve and satisfy countless clients, our lawyers have what it takes to win the compensation you need after a car accident.
Schedule a free consultation with us. Call 206-209-5585 or contact us online.