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14 Mar 2022

Personal Injury

Can loss of earnings form part of my Personal Injury claim?

We understand that when you have been injured in an accident it can be frightening and stressful, and the idea of making a claim can be daunting. You may also be worried about the financial implications, particularly if your injury is preventing you from working as normal. Victoria Smithyman, a partner in our Personal Injury team, explains how you can claim for loss of earnings as part of your compensation claim.

When you have suffered an unexpected injury, you may be left wondering what to do next – especially if you are looking to start a claim for compensation. Many people are forced to take sick leave after an accident, either because of the physical or mental effects of what they have been through, which means they miss out on their full income through no fault of their own. It is possible to claim this money back as part of your Personal Injury claim but you may be unsure how to prove the loss of this income or what you need to do. We’ve pulled together this simple guide to help you know what steps to take to claim back what you’re owed, whether you’re employed or self-employed.

The two parts of a personal injury claim

There are two parts of a personal injury claim that you need to be aware of – general damages and special damages.

Your general damages claim includes any pain, suffering and loss of amenity – or in other words, your injury and how this has affected your quality of life.

Your general damages claim can include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Physical impairment
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Lessened quality of life

The other part of a personal injury claim is special damages. This is your claim for any expenses and other financial losses that you have incurred as a direct result of the accident.

Your special damages could include the following:

  • Travelling expenses to medical appointments
  • Prescription charges
  • Cost of any treatment you have undergone as a result of your injuries
  • Reimbursement of lost earnings and overtime.
  • A contribution towards any care or help you have received as a direct result of the injuries you have suffered.

How can I claim for loss of earnings?

Unfortunately, after your injury, you may need to take time off work to recover. For a lot of people, this will inevitably have financial repercussions but it is possible to recover your lost earnings – including loss of overtime and other work-related losses – as part of your special damages award.

In order to recover any lost earnings, you will need to prove that you were justified in taking the time off work so usually, medical evidence will be needed to help support your claim. Remember that your loss of earnings will be calculated based on net pay (your take-home pay) rather than your pre-tax gross salary or wages. Your net annual salary (after-tax) will usually be based on your most recent three to six pay slips.

What if I’m self-employed?

Making a claim for loss of earnings is more complex for people who were either self-employed or were not in employment at the time of the accident, but it can still be done.

If you are self-employed it is important to notify your accountant at an early stage that you are absent. Being as organised as possible will make the process much easier for you. For example, it’s a good idea to keep records of your working diary, invoices and details of any contracts that you were unable to fulfil as a result of your injuries. Your accountant should be able to provide details of your accounts for at least three years prior to your accident in order to adequately assess your net loss through the business.  In addition, your tax returns and other HMRC declarations for at least three years will be integral in calculating and evidencing the financial loss.

What if I’m receiving benefits?

If you were unemployed at the time of the accident, any claim for loss of earnings will look at what your chances of becoming employed over the period of your injury were. This can be difficult to prove and will be based on your employment history, as well as previous income.

Many claimants who are unemployed also worry that if they receive a substantial amount of compensation for a personal injury claim, it might influence their benefits entitlement as it will be counted as capital, reducing the amount of benefits they’re entitled to.

However, don’t let this put you off. If you have suffered an injury in an accident and someone else is legally at fault, you have the right to claim compensation. There are different mechanisms for larger claims that can be put in place to ensure benefit entitlement is not affected or minimised, such as holding the money in trust for your benefit. For more information on Personal Injury trusts, see our blog or listen to our podcast.

Am I entitled to claim benefits if my accident has prevented me from working?

If you have sustained injuries that have affected your ability to work, you may be able to claim certain benefits from the Government but it can be difficult to know what you may be entitled to. Visiting www.gov.uk or contacting Citizens Advice is a good place to start. They’ll be able to provide useful help and advice if you’re worrying about making ends meet while you’re not receiving an income.

How much you can claim in benefits will depend on the nature and seriousness of your injury and your age. If, for example, your accident has left you with a disability or health condition that limits how much you can work, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to help you with living costs, or if your injuries have resulted in a long term disability, you may be entitled to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Premiums. Additionally, if your injuries have been caused by an accident at work or while you were on an approved employment training scheme or course, you may be able to apply for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

Will I need medical evidence?

As part of the personal injury claims process your solicitor will arrange for you to attend a medical assessment with an independent consultant who will prepare a report for the Court detailing the nature and extent of the injuries you have suffered as a result of the accident.  The medical report will also help to provide clear evidence as to support your inability to work and therefore your loss of earnings.

What are the next steps?

When you begin to make your claim, your solicitor will explain which documents you will need as evidence to support your claim.

At Harding Evans, we have years of experience in helping our clients win the compensation they deserve after suffering all sorts of personal injuries. If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, speak to our friendly team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can help you find out if you’re eligible to make a claim.

Get in touch today on 01633 244233 or email us at hello@hevans.com for a free, no-obligation chat.

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