While it is certainly the case that lost work hours and wages arising from an injury event and subsequent recovery period can be crippling for victims and their families, there is another important loss classification that must also be considered by prospective plaintiffs. Due to the extent and nature of the injuries suffered in a given accident, it may be difficult or impossible for victims to return to their prior line of work or, in some situations, any work at all. When this happens, plaintiffs are afforded the opportunity to pursue compensation for the reduction in future earning capacity that is traceable to the injury event and the acts or omissions of the negligent party.
Determining Value of Lost Earning Capacity
Though assigning a specific dollar value to a loss of future earning potential can be rather more challenging than tabulating actual lost wages, there are a number of factors used by accounting experts and attorneys to present a plaintiff’s situation to judges and juries. Among these considerations are things such as:
- the type of injuries suffered and the likely recuperation period required
- the victim’s employment background, educational history and vocational skills
- the likelihood of full or partial rehabilitation and the effect on future ability to work
- review of prior job responsibilities, potential for a return to work under restricted duties and the impact on wages/salaries
- assessment of income levels likely to have been earned if the injuries had not been sustained vs. reasonably likely post-accident income level
- review of career advancement potential lost due to post-accident injury restrictions
Types of Experts Used to Establish Lost Earning Potential
As stated earlier, expert testimony is almost always essential to proving any claim for lost earning potential, and it is useful for prospective plaintiffs to understand the types of analysts used for this purpose. Physicians frequently serve as experts in this realm in order to establish the permanent nature of the injuries suffered and to show that a full return to work at pre-accident capacity is impossible. This can help juries appreciate the true limitations a victim is likely to experience now as well as into the future. Vocational specialists also serve a key role in terms of establishing lost earning capacity by explaining the effect on employment of the specific injury as it relates to the duties of the plaintiff’s prior position. Such experts will also provide information about the sorts of occupations the injured party may be able to undertake in light of his or her new physical limitations and explain the reduction in earning potential resulting from the change. An economist may be asked to provide testimony about the aggregate losses going forward that are attributable to the injury based on review of actuarial data, labor statistics and the like.
Pursuing All Avenues of Compensation for Victims of Negligence
Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal understands that medical bills, property damage and lost wages are often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true harm suffered by accident victims. Dramatic losses of future earning capacity and overall ability to support a family often represent the most severe category of damage to those harmed by the negligence of others. As a result, the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal is committed to working collaboratively with economic loss experts, vocational specialists and others to build the most persuasive case possible for maximum compensation. To begin the process of seeking full and fair recovery following your serious injury event, contact us at 303.825.2223.