I Lost My Job Because Of This Accident. Can I Recover My Lost Wages?
You bet. If you are hurt in a Maryland automobile accident by the negligence of another, and are kept out of work by a doctor, the wages you've lost are recoverable. If you are given a light duty or part time duty restriction by your doctor, you're entitled to recover the difference between what you make, and what you would have made working full duty. Luckily for the participants, most accident cases fall into one of these two categories. The effects of some accidents, however, are more profound.
What about a situation where someone is seriously injured, and can work, but can no longer return to their former employment for medical reasons, or were terminated from their job because they could not return to work?
The burden of proof is higher, and the evidentiary requirements are more stringent, but, in appropriate circumstances, the economic losses here are recoverable. In this situation, an experienced car accident lawyer will always have a discussion with his or her client about the obligation to diligently look for work and keep records. "The duty to mitigate damages serves to reduce the amount of damages to which a plaintiff might otherwise have been entitled had he or she used all reasonable efforts to minimize the loss he or she sustained as a result of a breach of duty by the defendant." Hopkins v Silber [Md. App., 2001] [citations and internal quotations omitted]. In the context of last wages, this concept means that an injured person, if and when healed, must look for work.
If they cannot find work, despite their best efforts, they may recover their lost wages until the time they return to suitable, gainful employment. If they return to work, but at a temporarily lower rate, the difference is recoverable.
This type of claim has a built-in assumption that the injured person has lost wages on a temporary basis, but will, ultimately, return to work in an equivalent capacity. The law also recognizes a related claim, that of lost earning capacity. In this circumstance, the injured person may return to work, but there is medical, vocational, and economic evidence that the person will never be able to return to, or exceed, their income level prior to the accident. This is called a loss of earning capacity claim, and it is a complex claim that must be supported thoroughly by expert testimony.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 10/8/19.