How Do I Prove Lost Income in an Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Proving your lost wages is a key step in recovering the compensation you deserve in a personal injury case. 
Office Information
Hasbrook & Hasbrook
400 N Walker Ave #130, Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: (405) 605-2426

Oklahoma Law on Proving Personal Injury Lost Income

To recover lost income at trial, Oklahoma law requires the plaintiff to conclusively prove through evidence that the defendant’s actions caused the lost income and to quantify past and future losses in a non-speculative manner directly supported by documentation and testimony. The award is limited to losses directly attributable to the injury.
The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligence or wrongful actions directly caused an interruption to the plaintiff’s business or employment, resulting in lost income. This causation must be established through evidence, not just alleged.
To quantify the lost income, the plaintiff can provide tax returns, pay stubs, profit and loss statements, and testimony from the plaintiff, employers, or experts to document past earnings and project expected future earnings.
If claiming lost earning capacity, vocational experts can testify how the injury impacts the plaintiff’s ability to earn income in their occupation. Medical experts may testify on the nature and permanence of the injury to establish impairment.
The amount of lost income awarded must be reasonably certain and directly tied to evidence, not speculative. Juries have discretion, but excessive awards can be reduced. For future losses, the award is discounted to present value through expert testimony on economic factors like inflation and interest rates. Periodic payments may also be considered. If the injury is permanent, the plaintiff can recover for loss of future earning capacity and past lost earnings.

The Steps for Proving Lost Wages in Oklahoma

  • Start tracking lost wages immediately after the accident occurs.
  • Gather documentation of your income before the accident – tax returns, pay stubs, W2s.
  • Get written confirmation from your employer of missed days/hours of work.
  • Collect medical records and notes showing how the injury affects your capacity to work.
  • Calculate lost income based on missed hours and your regular pay rate.
  • Factor in any lost future earnings due to disability or reduced earning ability.
  • Consult an experienced attorney early in the process for guidance.
  • Compile all evidence promptly before memories fade or documents disappear.

What Are Lost Wages Under Oklahoma Law?

Lost wages refer to any income lost due to missing work from the accident and injury. This includes:

  • Your regular salary, hourly pay, tips, commissions, or other earnings you would have received if you had not been injured.
  • Overtime pay, bonuses, and any other additional compensation you missed.
  • Benefits such as vacation pay, sick pay, and paid time off you had to use because of the injury.
  • Future earning capacity if the injury causes any long-term or permanent disability that reduces your ability to work and earn income in the future.

Under Oklahoma Statutes 23 O.S. §§ 61 and 61.2, your lost income and wages fall under the damages that can be claimed after an accident due to another party’s negligence.

Can I get paid for sick days I used because of my injury?

Yes, you have the right to get compensation for any paid time off or sick days you had to use because of accident injuries.

What counts as “lost income”?

Lost wages refer to any income you've lost because you missed work due to injuries from an accident. This includes your regular pay, overtime, bonuses, commissions, benefits like paid time off, and future earnings you'll lose if you now have a disability.

What documents do I need to prove lost wages?

You'll need tax returns, pay stubs, employer records, medical reports, vocational expert assessments, and other documents showing your pre-accident income, missed workdays, reduced earning ability, and lost future income.

How are lost wages calculated?

Lost wages are calculated based on your average income before the accident, missed work hours/days, lost benefits, and diminished future earning capacity due to disability.

Can I claim lost wages if I’m self-employed?

Yes, self-employed people can claim lost wages by providing tax returns, bank statements, invoices, records of missed gigs/clients, and comparing pre and post-accident earnings.

What if I can’t work anymore due to my injury?

If your injury causes permanent disability that reduces your future earning potential, you can make a lost earning capacity claim supported by vocational expert assessments.

Why Proving Lost Wages is Important

There are several key reasons why proving lost income is so vital:

  • It allows you to claim the full and fair compensation you deserve under Oklahoma law. Lost wages are often a significant financial loss after an accident.
  • It prevents the insurance company from underestimating your losses and making a lowball offer.
  • Clear proof strengthens your case under Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws and creates leverage when negotiating a fair settlement.
  • If your case goes to court, solid evidence will support your claim for damages during litigation, as state laws require.
  • It ensures the liable party is held fully accountable for all the losses they have caused, which is a core principle of Oklahoma tort law.

What Documents Do You Need to Prove Lost Wages?

To prove lost wages after an accident in Oklahoma, gathering documentation that clearly shows the following:

  • Your income and earnings before the accident. This provides a baseline against which to calculate losses. Documents like tax returns, pay stubs, and W-2s can serve as evidence.
  • The specific days and hours of work you have missed due to injury. A record from your employer, work timesheets, calendars, and medical notes help prove this.
  • How the injury has impacted your capacity to work. Your medical records, doctor’s notes on work restrictions, and expert assessments demonstrate this loss of earning ability.
  • Any lost future income due to disability or reduced earning capacity. Vocational expert reports assessing how the injury may reduce your future earnings can prove this loss.

Tip: Create a timeline from the accident date onwards and mark lost work days/hours to simplify tracking missed income.

Proving Lost Income for Self-Employed and Gig Workers

If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or a “gig worker,” proving lost income requires some additional steps:

  • Past tax returns and 1099 forms will prove your prior self-employment earnings.
  • Invoices, bank statements, and bookkeeping records help establish a baseline for earnings over time.
  • Documentation on specific projects, contracts, gigs, or clients missed due to the injury helps quantify the losses.
  • Emails, texts, correspondence, and other communications can also demonstrate missed income opportunities directly resulting from the accident.
  • Comparisons to earnings from previous years account for normal fluctuations and strengthen the claim for losses, specifically due to the injury.

When to Start Claiming Lost Wages

You should start tracking and accounting for lost wages as soon as possible after the accident. Notify your employer that you will claim lost earnings and ask them to maintain records. Please consult your attorney early, ideally within days or weeks, so they can assist in gathering time-sensitive evidence and documentation.

Many states have strict deadlines for personal injury claims, so promptly compile your proof of lost income before memories, documents, and witnesses become less reliable or available.

Who Pays Lost Wages Compensation?

Typically, the liable party and their insurer will pay your lost wage claim, whether that is through a settlement or after a court judgment. This includes:

  • The at-fault driver’s auto insurance provider in a motor vehicle accident.
  • A business or property owner’s general liability insurance if the accident happened on their premises.
  • Workers compensation insurance will usually cover lost wages due to workplace injuries.
  • Depending on the circumstances, your insurance policy and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can sometimes assist with lost earnings.

Your attorney will identify all potentially liable parties and pursue the compensation you are owed under the law for your lost income.