legal blog

How Are Lost Wages Calculated?

Written by Jared Staver

Read Jared's Bio

Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


If you miss work due to injuries inflicted in an accident that another person is responsible for, you usually can recover damages for lost wages. Lost wages compensate you for money you would usually earn if you were not injured. This, of course, includes your typical salary, but can also include overtime you habitually make, wage increases for a lost promotion you were on track for, lost sales commissions, missed bonus opportunities, and even compensation for pension and benefits lost.

In order to prove lost wages, you need to gather documentation from medical professionals to support your injury claim, as well as a letter from your employer confirming the time taken off, your hourly rate or your monthly salary, hours worked per week, and whether or not you typically get paid for any overtime. Once this is done, it is usually pretty simple to calculate basic wages lost. If you are a salaried employee, you just need to divide your yearly salary by 2,080 and then multiply that number by the hours of work that you missed (using an 8 hour workday for days missed).

If you are an hourly employee, this calculation may not be as straightforward. First, you figure out how many hours of work you missed. If you work regular hours every week, base this off your normal work schedule, but if your hours vary, you can assume a missed number of hours by calculating the average number of hours that you worked per week over the last two or three months. In the case, you normally are entitled to some overtime, you can calculate this in your number of hours as well, but you will need to show documentation that this is common. Multiply each by your standard pay scale to calculate total wages lost.

How Do I Calculate Lost Wages If I Never Can Go Back to Work?

Unfortunately, in some cases, accidents can be permanently debilitating or make you incapable of doing your current job. In these cases, determining your lost wages can be much more complicated. A professional, such as an attorney or a forensic economist, will most likely need to assess many factors to help you get an idea of what you deserve. They will analyze and calculate data that to assess your lost earning power and calculate your lost wages. Some factors that will be considered include:

  • The number of years before you were expected to retire
  • Employment history
  • Job skills
  • Educational background
  • Earnings history
  • Economic lifestyle
  • Possibly any other physical or mental impairments you suffered before the accident

These factors can be used to approximate an economic model to show what you have been denied in terms of future earnings due to your accident. If you have been disabled or seriously injured by your accident or expect to get any non-standard lost wages (such as missed bonuses or lost promotions), you will need to hire an experienced Chicago injury lawyer to help you through this process.

In general, recovering lost wages is an important way to get back on your feet after a serious injury. Since it is so important to do all these calculations correctly, contacting a personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure that they are accurate, fair, and well supported by documentation. If you have been injured in an accident in the Chicago area that caused you to miss work, consider consulting us at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. about your case. With years of experience settling these claims favorable for our clients, we can support you every step of the way. Call us today at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation on your case with a Chicago injury lawyer.

Free Consultation
(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900