Can I claim loss of earnings as part of a personal injury claim?

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If you have sustained personal injuries in an accident which has necessitated you taking time off work, you may be worrying about the financial implications of your absence. You may be considering making a claim for compensation for your losses, or may have already started doing so, and may need clarification on what exactly you are able to claim for.

This guide looks at what you may be able to claim for following your accident, whether you can reclaim any earnings you have lost as a result of the accident and how the financial value of your claim is calculated.

Claiming damages

A personal injury claim is divided into two parts - general damages and special damages.

Your general damages claim is the claim for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity (quality of life) that you have sustained as a result of your injuries.

Your special damages claim is your claim for any out of pocket expenses you have incurred as a direct result of the accident. For example, your special damages claim could include the cost of:

  • Travelling expenses to medical appointments
  • Prescription charges
  • Cost of any treatment you have undergone (such as physiotherapy) as a result of your injuries
  • Reimbursement of lost earnings and overtime

To maximise your chances of reclaiming as many of your items of special damage as possible you should support each item with evidence such as receipts for painkillers, invoices from treatment providers and payslips for your loss of earnings and overtime.

Loss of Earnings Claim

As the person bringing the claim you will need to produce evidence to support any loss claimed. If you are employed (as opposed to self-employed or a business owner), the best way of doing this is to produce payslips for at least 6 months prior to the accident in order to show a detailed history of your earnings. If you wish to claim for lost overtime you will also need to show that this overtime would have been available to you if you had not been prevented from working because of your injuries, and that you regularly worked overtime prior to the accident.

The Court will usually assess your net average monthly wage for at least 3 months prior to the accident in order to calculate your average salary. In a straight forward claim this will be multiplied by your period of absence in order to calculate your loss of earnings claim.

How to calculate loss of earnings

Please see the below example on how to work out your loss of earnings:

Month Net wages per wage slip Net annual income based on average wage Net daily wage based on 5 day week Number of days absent due to injury Net loss of income
July 2016 £1,750.00 £19,400.00 (£1,616.67 x 12 months) £74.62 (£19,400.00/52 weeks/5 days) EG 13 days (Per company sickness record) £970.00 (13 days absent x £74.62)
August 2016 £1,500.00
September 2016 £1,600.00
Average monthly wage (sum of net wages / 3) £1,616.67

It is important to note that your period of absence must be supported by the expert medical evidence in order to make a successful claim. You also have an ongoing duty to mitigate your losses, (i.e. keeping them to a minimum) and this includes returning to work when you are capable of doing so.

Self Employed Loss of Earnings Claim

If you are self employed or a business owner, it is a little more complicated to prove a loss of earnings claim. It is important to notify your accountant at an early stage that you are absent and incurring a loss through your business. Ensure that you keep records of your working diary, invoices and details of contracts that you were unable to fulfil due to your injuries. Your accountant should be able to provide details of your accounts for at least 3 years prior to accident in order to adequately assess your net loss through the business.

Loss of Pension Claim and Ongoing Loss of Earnings

A particularly long period of absence could potentially result in a loss of pension claim. In more severe cases, the medical evidence will assess the impact of your injuries on your future capacity to work. Your claim could therefore include a claim for future loss or earnings or an award which aims to compensate you for any disadvantage you may suffer on the open labour market as a result of your injuries.

Your claim for special damages will be presented in a schedule called a "Schedule of Loss" and a copy of this schedule will be sent to your opponent's insurance company or solicitor together with evidence in support.

Loss of earnings can often form a large part of a personal injury claims and if you are able to document your earnings and prove, by way of medical evidence, that you were justified in taking time off work following your accident, then you should be able to recover earnings lost as a result of your inability to work if your case is successful.

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