It is generally accepted under Florida law that in personal injury cases accident victims are entitled to recover their lost wages. In many instances, this kind of claim is relatively easy to assert. People who make a regular salary or work a set number of hours for the same hourly rate can generally prove their lost wages with little difficulty. Proof usually involves submitting time sheets or pay stubs from before and after the accident to show by comparison our injured client's reduced hours or missed pay. As long as our client has no other reason other than their accident for missing work -- such as being laid off, downsized, lagging sales, or poor business performance -- we can usually recover lost wages for salaried or hourly employees in a very straightforward manner.
How Are Self-Employed People Different?
The bigger challenge for any Florida personal injury lawyer is trying to get clients compensated for lost wages when the clients own their own business. For example, we represented a gentleman who owned a small business that was just getting off the ground at the time of his car accident. His business was so young that he was not really collecting a regular paycheck yet. His business was turning a profit, but most of the profit from the business was being invested back into the business, with very little staying in our client’s pocket to pay his own living expenses. After our client got hurt his family members had to help him run his business. The business survived, but it didn't thrive. Our client wanted us to make a lost wage claim based on the idea that his business had not grown the way that it should have – and he had not made the kind of money that he had planned to make -- because he was not able to be intimately involved with his business from the very beginning.
Speculation vs. Certainty
Unfortunately, this kind of situation makes it very difficult to successfully assert a lost wage claim. In the case of our example client, he just did not have enough history with this business to be able to reliably prove that his business’ revenue would have been much greater months after his crash, had he not been injured. After all, it is generally accepted that brand new small businesses frequently have problems getting off the ground. Many small businesses fail within a year or two of their inception. Thus, in our client's case it was going to be difficult to prove with any kind of certainty that his particular business was going to have tremendous success, even if our client had was not been involved in an auto accident. In fact, the Florida Rules of Evidence prohibit a jury from even considering evidence that is too speculative. Ultimately, we made a tactical decision not to pursue a wage loss claim in our client's case.
Every Case Is Different
Of course, every case is different and we look at every set of facts and circumstances individually for our clients. Just because something is difficult does not necessarily mean that it is impossible. If you have any questions regarding a lost wage claim arising out of a Florida accident of any kind, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901. Consultations are always free, and with no obligation.