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Accidents caused by someone else leave victims suffering physically and, often, financially. In addition to medical bills, many personal injury victims miss weeks or months or work due to temporary disabilities.

Much of that enforced leave goes unpaid. Sometimes, accident victims lose their jobs altogether simply because their injuries leave them unable to return to work in a timely manner.

While it is wrong to call this a bright side, the Virginia law that sets the rules for personal injury insurance claims and civil lawsuits authorizes requests for lost wages. These types of allowable economic damages come in many forms, including the loss of lifetime earnings from a permanent disability and the loss of employment opportunities, such as having to cancel a job interview while recovering. In this article, I will focus on claims for loss of current wages.


First, recognize that the following information concerns personal injury cases. These can involve car and truck crashes, slips, falls, dog bites, medical malpractice or defective and dangerous products. Injuries that occur on the job — even if they result from one of the causes listed in the preceding sentence — are best handled by the Virginia workers’ compensation program.

Consulting with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney will help a person understand if he or she has grounds for claiming lost wages. A person can move ahead with an insurance claim or lawsuit if all the following circumstances exist:

  • Another person or organization caused the accident,
  • The accident inflicted an injury that required medical treatment,
  • Recovering from the injury forced the victim to miss work, and
  • Some or all of the time the injured accident victim missed from work went uncompensated.

Establishing each fact requires evidence that a Virginia personal injury lawyer can help collect, interpret, organize and present to an insurance company representative or to a judge and jury. Regarding the need to take unpaid leave, the lawyer will request

  • Medical records and therapists’ notes to prove the existence of a temporarily disabling injury;
  • Emails and other correspondence about leave and return dates between his client and the client’s employer;
  • Timesheets or other records of hours and days worked prior to and following the accident; and
  • Paychecks.

Once it is clear that an accident victim deserves economic damages in the form of lost wages, the amount can be easily calculated by counting the hours of paid work taken as uncompensated leave. It may also be appropriate to factor in missed overtime, unpaid bonuses and commissions.


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