Can I claim loss of earnings when making a personal injury claim?

If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you may be able to claim financial compensation – but will this include loss of earnings?

Injured man taking time off work

There are two types of injury compensation:

  • General damages: awarded for any pain, suffering and loss of amenity you may have suffered.
  • Special damages: awarded for financial losses or costs you incur, such as damage to property, prescriptions, medical treatments and care costs. You can also be awarded special damages for loss of wages or earnings.

Claiming for loss of earnings

Following an injury, you may need time off work to recover. For many, time off work has financial implications.

When making a personal injury claim, It is possible to recover lost earnings as part of a special damages award.

However, you will need to be able to prove that you were justified in taking time off work. Medical evidence will usually be required to support your claim.

You would also be expected to return to work when capable of doing so. As an injured claimant, you must keep any losses to a minimum.

How will your loss of earnings be quantified?

Your loss of earnings will be calculated based on your Net (take home) pay rather than your pre-tax gross salary or wages.

Take-home pay will be calculated as your gross salary plus probable overtime, bonuses, commission etc.

Deductions would then be made for the following:

  • Pension contributions (It may still be possible to claim for these losses of contributions separately)
  • Sick pay - statutory or paid by your employer
  • Benefits you received whilst off work

What about the loss of overtime?

A loss of earnings claim can include loss of overtime. However, you will need to be able to demonstrate that overtime would have been available during the period of absence.

What if I am self-employed?

If you are self-employed or own a business, you should notify your accountant as soon as you can that you have to take time off work.

Keep detailed records of the following:

  • Any existing contracts you have been unable to complete due to your injuries
  • Any work you have been forced to turn away
  • Invoices demonstrating current earnings to contrast with the period leading up to the accident.

Ask your accountant to provide accounts for the three year period preceding your accident, so that any business losses you incur as a result of the injury can be calculated.

What if I am self-employed

Ascertaining loss of earnings for the self-employed is invariably more complicated. As you will probably not have consistent earnings from week to week, quantifying loss is not as straight forward.

Read more about making an injury claim if you are self-employed

How can I prove what earnings I have lost?

The will depend on whether you are employed or self-employed:

If you are employed, you will need to demonstrate precisely what you earned leading up to the accident for a minimum of six months (usually from payslips).

To support your claim for loss of earnings you should:

  • keep all payslips
  • Keep a record of all historical overtime worked
  • collate and keep any correspondence about overtime, promotions, pay increases etc
  • keep a record of all days you were absent from work

See: Using wage slips as evidence

To assist your solicitor in proving your lost earnings, you should:

  • record the days you have been unable to work
  • keep details or any work you had scheduled and any purchase or work orders together with a record of the agreed rate you would have been paid
  • If your clients are obtained on a more ad-hoc basis, such as driving a taxi, then your losses will be calculated based on past earnings. Keep records of what your daily earnings have been.

Can I claim compensation for future loss of earnings?

If the injury is more serious, you may still be off work at the point your claim is settled.

If this is the case, then your future loss of earnings will be estimated with reference to the medical prognosis for recovery.

If the injury is so serious that you will never be able to return to work, then the loss of earnings will be calculated based on when you would have been likely to retire.

See: What if I cannot work as a result of a serious injury?

What if I am on a Zero hours contract?

Cases have been successfully brought against ‘quasi-employers’ of people on zero-hours contracts.

Every case is different, but claims can often be brought on the basis of occupiers liability, breaches of health and safety and so on.

Read more: Can I claim for a work injury on a zero-hours contract?

In addition to lost earnings, you can also claim for:

If your case is successful, you may also be entitled to…

  • Compensation for future loss of earnings: If your injuries are so severe that you will be unable to work in the future, or will be forced to take a job that pays less.
  • Compensation for loss of perks or benefits: If you were working towards a performance-related bonus, but were unable to see it through due to your injuries.
  • Compensation for loss of holiday/sick days: If you had to take these as part of your absence, you may be able to claim each day back as a day’s salary.
  • Compensation for loss of pension: If your injuries have necessitated a prolonged absence from work to the extent that your pension has been jeopardised.

What if I lost out on a promotion?

You may have been due a promotion or had an opportunity to seek promotion. You may find that after your return to work, your ability to do your job and progress to the next level is impaired. You may have lost your confidence, and your career path is compromised as a result.

If it can be established that you might have been promoted and consequently, your earnings potential would have increased, then a case can be made for a higher level of loss.

You will need medical evidence to support a loss of earnings claim

If it can be demonstrated that you were well enough to have continued working, you will not be compensated for loss of earnings.

In order to demonstrate that you were genuinely unable to work, you will need supporting medical evidence.

When you start a personal injury claim, the solicitor will arrange for you to attend a medical at a local medical centre. A medical report will then be compiled in support of your case.

You should, however, collate any evidence of medical attention received at the time of the injury as this will help support your claim, such as:

  • X-rays
  • Your GP’s report
  • Results of any tests carried out due to your injuries

Read more: Can my medical be carried out locally?

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How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert