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How to Document Lost Wages in a Tennessee Personal Injury Case

Generally speaking, four essential elements of negligence and hence most personal injury claims are:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of duty of care
  3. Causation of injury
  4. Damages

Damages may include medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, out of pocket expenses, and lost wages. In many car accident or personal injury claims, providing evidence of damages proves to be the most difficult element to satisfy, as physical and emotional damages may be difficult to measure and quantify into a dollar amount. However, economic or financial damages, such as lost wages, may be easier to calculate and document.

If a person is injured in a car accident and misses several days of work as a result of those injuries, he or she may be entitled to lost wages caused by and related to the accident. The goal, under Tennessee law, is for the injured party to be restored, as close as possible, to the condition he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. Lost wages must be reasonably quantifiable, which means their existence must not be too speculative. First, in order to file a wage loss claim, an injured party must prove that he or she missed work as a direct result of injuries sustained in the accident. A work excuse from a hospital or clinic or a letter from the treating physician is usually the simplest way to document the excused absence.

Second, in order to file a lost wage claim, an injured party must prove the amount of lost wages or income. Most injured persons who are hourly employees can provide a letter from their employer which states the amount of lost wages. The letter should typically be written on company letterhead and provide the date(s) of work missed, hours missed, hourly wage, and total amount of lost wages. If any overtime hours were missed, the letter should specify those hours and that rate of pay as well. In lieu of a letter from the employer, an injured party may be able to provide an itemized paystub which reflects any time off due to injuries sustained in the car accident. Even if an hourly employee uses paid time off such as sick pay or vacation pay to cover the missed hours, he or she may still be entitled to compensation for that time missed, provided the employee is able to sufficiently document the wage loss.

Injured persons who are self-employed or work a non-salaried job may have a more difficult time proving their lost income, as their income likely fluctuates from day to day based on hours worked, commission earned, and the like. The most common way a non-salaried employee can prove lost income is by providing tax returns as proof of wages that would have been earned if the employee had been able to work.  If you are paid for a specific service provided, you may be able to provide billing invoices or proof of missed jobs as a result of not being able to work. If you have to pay someone else to perform the services for you due to not being able to work, then a check stub, receipt, or other proof of payment could suffice as evidence of lost income. At trial, lost wages may also be proved by expert testimony.

If you have been injured as a result of another’s negligence in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and to determine how to get adequately compensated for all of your physical, emotional, and financial damages, including lost wages or income. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz represents people injured throughout Tennessee and has offices in Memphis, Jackson, and Knoxville. Call us at 1-800-LAW-4004 for a free consultation with our lawyers.