Can you claim for lost wages?

If you are involved in an accident at work and miss work due to the injuries sustained, then you may be entitled to claim for your lost wages. Lost earnings are calcluated as part of the "special damages" element of a compensation award.

Your claim must be supported by medical evidence to confirm that it was reasonable for you to miss work as a result of your injuries.

How much time can you take off work?

If it is medically necessary for you to take time off work due to your injuries, then it is essential that you do so. Returning to work too soon after the accident could harm your rehabilitation.

To recover any wages lost as a result of your inability to work, you must demonstrate that you were justified in taking time off. A medical expert will give an opinion about when it is appropriate for you to return to work, based on a medical exam.

It is important that you follow medical advice and return to work as soon as you are capable of doing do. By law, you have a duty to keep your financial losses to a minimum.

If you take longer off work than is medically necessary, you may not be able to recover all of your lost earnings.

How much loss of earnings can you claim?

Loss of earnings is calculated by multiplying your net monthly wage, expressed as a day rate, by the number of days you were off sick. If your monthly wage fluctuates, for example because of commission payments, then the court will look at your net average monthly wage over at least the three month period immediately before the accident.

As the claimant, it is up to you to produce evidence to support the loss of earnings claim. The best way of doing this is to produce payslips for at least six months prior to the accident in order to show an accurate history of your earnings.

What about overtime payments?

If you regularly worked overtime before the accident then it is possible to make a claim for lost overtime payments for your period of absence.

However, you must be able to prove that the overtime would have been available to you during the time that you were off sick.

What if you are self-employed?

It is possible to claim for lost wages if you are self-employed (for example a contractor making a claim for a building site accident), but the calculation is considerably more complicated.

As a minimum, you will need to produce:

  • Accurate profit and loss accounts for the last three years
  • Detailed invoice records
  • Your work diary
  • Details of the contracts and commitments that you were unable to carry out due to the work-related injury.

It is recommended that you notify your accountant as soon as possible if you are unable to work for any period. Their input will be required to accurately assess the net loss to your business.

What if you cannot return to work for many months or years?

If you have sustained, for example, a serious back injury at work, it is possible that you will need an especially long period of absence. On rare occasions, a claimant may not be able to return to work at all.

In either case, it is possible to make a claim for future loss of earnings. The aim is to compensate you for any reduction in the value of your earning capacity based your likely future working career.