How to Recover for "Lost Wages" in a Nevada Injury Lawsuit

Nevada law allows the victim in an accident or injury case to recover lost income and lost wages. However, the lost wages must be documented and proven, and must have been caused by the defendant's negligence or wrongdoing. 

Lost wages” in Nevada can include:

  • Regular pay,
  • Overtime pay,
  • Commissions,
  • Bonuses,
  • Self-employment income,
  • Vacation or sick days you had to use up, and
  • Any other lost perks or benefits you lost for that period (such as a car allowance or free meals).

In essence, the total value of anything you definitely or likely missed out on due to your injury is added up to get your total "lost wages" in a Nevada personal injury suit.

To help you better understand how to calculate your lost wages in Nevada, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss, below:

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1. Getting a Lost Wages Letter From Your Employer in Nevada

If you are an employee, your best proof of lost wages is a letter from your employer and past pay stubs.

The letter from your employer should state:

  • Your job title,
  • The date on which you were hired and confirmation that you are (or were) an employee as of the date of the injury or accident,
  • The number of hours you normally work per week,
  • Your regular rate and frequency of pay (for instance, $25/hour),
  • Your overtime rate (if applicable) and the number of overtime hours you normally work per week,
  • The number of days or hours of work you missed,
  • Any amounts you could reasonably have expected to receive in overtime pay, commissions or bonuses during that period, and
  • Any other perks to which you would have been entitled but didn't receive (such as a car allowance).

If your employer is not willing to write a letter, you will have to establish your lost wages by other means, such as past pay stubs and income tax returns. Your Las Vegas injury attorney can help you determine the best alternative means for establishing lost wages if you can't get a letter from your employer.

Note that you can include partial days in this total, including any hours you missed because of doctor appointments, physical therapy or any other treatment for your injuries.

2. How Do I Prove Lost Self-Employment Income?

Self-employment income is harder to prove, but is also a legitimate basis for a Nevada lost wages claim.

To prove it, you will need documents that, taken as a whole, show what you would have billed or been paid for the period you missed.

Documents that can help establish your lost self-employment income include:

  • Your tax return for the prior year,
  • Billing statements for the months preceding the accident or injury (or, if your income is seasonal, for the same period during the preceding year), 
  • If your income is very complicated, testimony by a forensic accounting expert witness. 

3. Can I Recover Lost Wages if I Used Personal Days, Sick Days or Vacation Time?

If you had to use paid sick days, personal days or vacation time due to an injury caused by someone else, you can absolutely claim reimbursement for those days.

But for the other person's wrongful act, you would have had those days to use whenever you liked. Depending on your employer's policy you may even have been able to cash them out.

You can also claim any lost sick, personal or vacation days you had to use so that you could go your doctor or physical therapist after you returned to work.

Make sure you keep records of the dates and hours of work you missed for any such treatment. Copies of your time cards or pay stubs showing the missed time are crucial as are records of your doctor or therapist visit on such date.

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4. Can I Claim Lost Overtime, Commissions, Bonuses or Perks in a Nevada personal injury case?

If you would normally have expected to receive overtime pay, commissions, bonuses or perks during your period of missed work you can claim them as lost wages in Nevada.

You will have to prove that but for your injury you would have:

  • Worked overtime house,
  • Made money on commission,
  • Earned a bonus, and/or
  • Been entitled to a perk (such as a car allowance).

You can do this in any number of ways. Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):

  • If your overtime pay or commissions are regular, past pay stubs showing a pattern;
  • If your overtime pay or commissions are seasonal, an explanation from your employer (plus pay stubs for the prior year, if available);
  • If your overtime, commissions or a bonus was contingent on a special event, a letter from your employer detailing the event and specifying the amount you would have been expected to receive; and/or
  • A letter from your employer specifying your lost bonus pay and the conditions for earning the bonus.

Example: Callie is a certified public account who works for a well-known national tax preparation company. In mid-March, she is seriously injured in a ride-sharing accident in Las Vegas and has to miss 6 weeks of work. Her employer writes a note saying that CPAs are expected to do approximately 6 hours of overtime per week during tax season. The employer also gives Callie a copy of her wage statements from the prior year, which shows a similar amount of overtime.

Callie also would have been entitled to a bonus if she had worked a total of at least 25 weeks of overtime during tax season. Her employer states this in a letter, which also says she was paid that bonus the prior year. With her employer's letter and a copy of her bonus check for the prior year, Callie recovers both 36 weeks of overtime and her bonus as part of her Nevada personal injury settlement.

5. How Can I Prove Lost Income from Tips in Las Vegas?

You are entitled to claim tips as lost wages in a Nevada personal injury case.

However, proving them can be tricky unless your employer tracks them and/or you declare them as income on your taxes.

Your best bet for proving them is usually with a letter from your employer or proof of a prior period's income. You can prove a prior period's income by showing regular bank deposits on the same day of the week (for instance, the day after you get your regular paycheck) or with a copy of a prior tax return.

If you have lost tips as a result of an accident in Las Vegas, our personal injury lawyers can go over your case (at no charge) to help determine how best to prove your losses.

6. Are "Lost Wages" Taxable in Nevada?

The short answer is "it depends."

Internal Revenue Code section 104 (codified in 26 USC 104 (a)(2)) provides that gross income for tax purposes does not include "the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received (whether by suit or agreement and whether as lump sums or as periodic payments) on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness."

(Emotional distress and pain and suffering are not considered physical injuries or physical sicknesses unless attributable to a physical injury or physical sickness.)

The IRS takes the position that damages intended to reimburse a plaintiff for lost wages are taxable. The argument is that the amount would have been taxed had it been paid as income.

In practice, however, settlements in personal injury cases are often for a lump sum which is not allocated between injuries and lost wages.

Consultation with a tax professional is recommended in order to determine whether a settlement will be taxable.

7. Can I Recover For Lost Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

You are not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits in Nevada unless:

  • You are physically and mentally able to work, and
  • You are available to look for and accept work in your usual occupation.

Obviously, if you have been injured in an accident in Nevada you may not be able to do so. You will usually have to file for disability benefits rather than unemployment for any period during which you are injured and unable to work.

However, if you lose your job and as a result of the time you lost to your injury you failed to earn enough base earnings to qualify for Nevada unemployment insurance, you may have a claim based on lost unemployment benefits.

8. How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Lost Wages in Nevada?

Generally speaking, you have only two years to file a civil lawsuit in Las Vegas. Two years is Nevada's “statute of limitations” for most personal injury lawsuits. So the statute of limitations for a lost wages claim in Nevada is two years.

However, certain Nevada injuries have statutes of limitations that are longer or shorter than two years.

The one to be most aware of is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Nevada, which can be as short as 1 year.

To keep from losing your right to sue in your Las Vegas personal injury case, we recommend you speak to an experienced Nevada personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your injury.

9. Lost Wages and Nevada Worker's Compensation

If you were on the job when you were injured in Las Vegas, you may be limited to recovery under Nevada workers compensation laws.

Our Las Vegas injury lawyers offer free consultations to help you determine whether a third party is responsible for your work-related injury in Nevada or whether you must seek damages under Nevada's worker compensation law.

You may also wish to visit the website for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) for more information on Nevada's worker compensation.

10. The Difference Between Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity

“Lost wages” refers to actual income from your employment that would have made had you not been injured. It is a measure of past damages.

Lost Earning Capacity refers to income you will be unable to earn in the future due to a serious injury. It is a prediction of how much you would have earned absent the injury. It often requires expert testimony and actuarial tables.

Lost wages on the other hand can usually be proven with certainty based on pay stubs, employer statements, billing invoices and /or past tax returns.

Injured in Las Vegas or Reno? Call us for help…

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If you have lost wages following an injury or accident in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation to find out if someone may owe you compensation.

To schedule your free consultation, either complete the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

One of our hardworking, experienced and trustworthy Nevada personal injury attorneys will get back to you promptly so that you can get started recovering the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.

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