Things can get really complicated when assessing what a car accident victim really loses after a serious car accident. As with any personal injury case, one issue to consider carefully is the income you have lost and the income you can expect to lose because of your injuries. Past wage loss is much easier to assess and document. But accident victims need to also consider future income losses, especially "lost earning capacity".
Lost earning capacity refers to your ability to make a living in either the job you had before or something comparable to it. To prove this, you'll need some financial documentation and expert witnesses who can testify for you and are qualified to make an assessment of your physical limitations and what kind of impact those limitations will have on your ability to make a living. In order to qualify, you need to document this, and it takes expert testimony. Vocational counselors, an economist, letters from your doctors to name a few, can provide this information.
Each case is so unique, and it's impossible to come up with a truly comprehensive list of variables. However, there are some common factors that will affect future earnings in an injury case. Many of these factors make up a snapshot of what you and your personal injury attorney will need to prove to make your case.
- A comprehensive assessment of your injuries including a timeline of your prospects for a full recovery.
- If a full recovery is not realistic due to long-term injuries, you will need to show a realistic picture of your capabilities and limitations as they pertain to employment options once you reach your maximum possible recovery.
- An assessment of the nature of your current employment duties and any prospective employment duties you are trained for and are qualified to carry out in light of the limitations stemming from your injuries. This includes the financial implications of different employment options. For example, if you used to operate a forklift and were eligible to operate a different piece of machinery that would pay a higher wage but would no longer be able to do any of that, there is a financial impact that needs to be assessed and shown in your personal injury case.
- An idea of the income you could have reasonably expected to be paid if you had never been injured. That will be contrasted with an estimate of the income you could have reasonably expected to receive had you never been injured.
- Any promotions or advancements you would have reasonably been expected to achieve.
These are complex criteria to assess and prove, and this is a good reason to contact an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer. Lawyers specializing in this distinct area of law will know what information you'll need to track down and provide, and can help guide you through that whole process. They'll also know the kinds of credible, distinguished expert witnesses to retain who would best be able to testify on your behalf.
So how does all this work in the real world? Here's an example of how personal injury attorneys prove future wage loss for their clients. If someone was in a job making $80K then because of a serious accident they're unable to go back to that same job, they can be re-trained for a different job. But if after that re-training, they can only make $60K in that new job, then this accident caused a lifelong situation. A wage loss in that example means a difference of $20K per year for the rest of the accident victim's working years. That means that person is entitled to future wage loss.
For more, check out my video on Proving Future Wage Loss.