Are Lost Wages Compensatory Damages? | S. Burke Law

If you miss work and do not get paid because of an injury, the wages you lost can be compensatory damages. It will depend on the facts of your case, but the team at S. Burke Law will sit down with you and review your circumstances to see if you are entitled to recover your lost income. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 if you have any questions about lost wages being compensatory damages.

Georgia Law on Lost Wages as Recoverable Damages

The Georgia Code provides that lost wages in a tort case (in which someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional act harmed you) are “special and consequential damages.” Special damages are losses that the tortious act causes. We must prove special damages for you to recover them. Your employer’s records are a common way to prove your lost income.

Georgia classifies losses in tort cases as either:

  • Direct damages, “which follow immediately upon the doing of a tortious act,” or
  • Consequential damages, “which are the necessary and connected effect of a tortious act, even though they are to some extent dependent upon other circumstances.”

Lost wages are usually consequential damages, since they depend on other circumstances, such as:

  • Whether your employer pays sick leave.
  • Whether you had any available sick time or had already used it for other events.
  • Whether your recuperation time exceeded your available paid sick leave such that you went without pay during part or all of this period.

Compensatory Damages in Georgia

When someone injures you, Georgia law provides that you can collect damages as compensation for your injury. Compensatory damages are usually things that you can estimate in dollars, for example:

  • Lost income, which you can calculate or estimate using your average wages.
  • Medical expenses, which you can determine by adding up your medical bills.

Find out more about what types of damages you can recover through a Georgia personal injury claim.

How to Determine the Amount of Lost Wages

The kind of income you earn will control how we calculate the amount of your damages for lost wages. For example:

Hourly workers: We will add up the total number of hours you missed and multiply that by how much you earn per hour. If you work 40 hours a week at $25 an hour, your gross wages are $1,000 a week. Your lost wages are $3,000 if you missed three weeks of work because of your injury.

Salaried employees: We take your regular salary times how long you were out of work. If you earn $4,000 a month and you missed two months of work, your lost wages are $8,000.

Self-employed persons: We have to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis, since taxable income does not always reflect actual income, due to the many business expenses and deductions for the self-employed.

Irregular income: We typically use the average of your earnings if your income varies from one week or month to the next. For fields with a “high season,” however, we have to use a different approach. An accountant who makes much more money during tax season is one example of when we have to apply different formulas.

Learn more about how you calculate lost wages in an injury claim.

Duty to Mitigate Damages

An injured person has a duty under Georgia law to mitigate damages through ordinary care and diligence. The court can reduce your compensation if it feels that your damages were excessive. For example, if a person stayed out of work for 10 years for a sprained wrist, the court will likely award him only the amount of lost wages that it feels is reasonable for that type of injury.

How to Get Help for Your Lost Wages Claim

If you lost wages from an injury and seek compensatory damages and would like to find out how much your case is worth, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.