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Additional Damages - Lost Wages

Motorcycle Accident Claim in California

California Motorcycle Law

After a motorcycle accident, you are physically, mentally and emotionally injured. In addition, most motorcyclists are employed at the time of the accident. Some of these folks are able to return to work immediately after their motorcycle accident with little or no interruption. Others are not so lucky and face continued medical treatment and prolonged physical recovery that either limits or entirely prevents them from returning to work. If your doctor has placed you on a total work restriction or limited your tasks at work, you will require a written copy of the doctor's work restriction for the insurance company. This puts the insurance company on notice that you will be making loss of earnings or loss of future earnings claim. The typical physician's work restriction order will include the date of the injury, the nature of the injury and how long you should be off work or the type of restrictions that you should have when you return to work.

If your doctor's orders change at any time, either shortening or extending the limitations on your ability to work, please obtain an additional work restriction note from your doctor and notify the insurance company immediately.

While you are recovering from your injuries, it is important that you document your lost wages. Please keep track of your days or hours missed from work without pay, and include sick or vacation days. If you are employed, the insurance company may eventually request your employment or payroll records, including time sheets or other attendance records to verify your claim or inability to work as a result of your accident or injuries. Do not depend solely on your employer's records or your Wage Loss Declaration. Keep your own personal records of the dates, hours and times that you miss from work without pay. Include copies of this calendar or diary with your lost wage claim.

You may be required to provide additional written documentation from your doctor as to why you took time off from work after your motorcycle accident. It is always our best policy to try and mitigate your loss of earnings damages by trying to return to work when you are able to. Sometimes, you will be able to return to work with different duties or reduced hours or restrictions.

If you are self-employed, proving your damages may be more difficult. You may be required to sign a wage loss authorization allowing the insurance company to obtain all of your personal financial records. Even though your tax returns are protected under federal law as private, these may be required to prove a loss of earnings claim. It may be difficult to provide substantial proof of the numbers of hours or days or clients you have missed as a result of your injuries and damages. It will be your responsibility for identifying, organizing and producing the necessary documents that verify and support your loss of earnings claim. Some of our clients are self-employed on a contractors or realtors where they get paid on a project-type basis. It is important for you to then contact these customers and provide copies of written contracts or agreements with past, current and future clients. You may have lost proposals or projects or sales as a result of your injuries. You will need witnesses and evidence to prove your loss of earnings claim.

Furthermore, you will need to provide solid verified testimony and evidence from your primary care doctor stating why you were unable to physically conduct the proposed work. For example, if you are a construction worker and are in a wheelchair, common sense would tell us that you would be unable to physically do the work tasks required of you. But if you are a realtor in a wheelchair, you can still show houses and do the necessary tasks to sell property.

You are not entitled to speculative income. In other words, that you planned on getting a job soon or that you hoped to make more money in the business or you anticipated getting a project. You must prove beyond preponderance of the evidence that your job was sound, secure and reasonably certain that you would have lost wages, but for the accident and injuries that you have sustained. There is also an argument that you took time off from work for medical treatment as opposed to injuries. In other words, the reason why you lost wages is because you went to doctors' appointments. The defense may argue that you could have made your doctors? appointments around your schedule and that you are only entitled to lost wages as a result of injuries sustained that prevent you from doing the tasks required of your job. This is a minor technicality, but has a valid impact with the juries and decision makers. As such, you must argue that the reason you went to the physical therapy was because your injury symptoms prevented you from doing the work that is required at your job.

You are then required to prove your damages for lost wages. The only effective way to prove your case is to provide evidence, not just facts, that show that your claimed lost wages are fair and reasonable and have supporting documents.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and lost wages, you must provide proof of the following:

  • How much money you earned each pay period during the six months or one year before the accident
  • How much money you would have earned but for the accident
  • How many hours you worked each pay period in the six months or one year before the accident
  • How many hours you worked each pay period following the accident to date
  • Documents from your medical doctor showing that you were medically unfit to do the job tasks required of you at your profession
  • Documents of any anticipated raises, promotions, cost of living increases, or performance based salary increases that you lost because of the accident or injuries
  • A list of all employment-related benefits, reimbursements, bonuses, profit sharing, sales commissions, gifts or awards that you would have received but for your accident and injuries
  • A list of all employment-related medical or other insurance benefits that you have lost as a result of the accident or injuries and your inability to work
  • All medical records documenting the anticipated date of your return to work, or in the alternative that you will be unable to return to that same job that you had prior to the accident.


Tom Reinecke

California Motorcycle Lawyer