Loss of earnings is the loss of income that an individual was not able to collect or earn because of an injury that was caused by someone else. Many of our clients are self-employed, which makes proving loss of earnings very difficult, especially if they do not use a good accounting program or have an accountant. It's always best to have accurate records, such as taxes that have been prepared by an accountant. Thus, self-employed individuals need to get their records in good shape, if they don't already. As part of the process, they have to provide us with evidence of jobs lost and how much they earned in the past from similar jobs. It would be beneficial to have evidence of past earnings for similar work as well as proof of jobs lost.
For wage earners, it's not that difficult. All we really need from wage earners are their pay stubs or earnings record. We can compare prior wage earnings to those after the accident, which is pretty simple. We also include any loss of payments made by the employer for benefits they receive, such as medical or 401(k) contributions. For future loss of earning capacity, we would rely on a doctor's opinion that our client is going to be disabled from work in the future. Without a doctor's opinion, it may be very difficult to convince an adjuster, insurance company, or jury at trial that it's reasonably certain that the client will lose income in the future because they are unable to work due to an injury. The jury instruction requires that future loss of earnings capacity be relatively certain. One of the things to consider when calculating future loss of earnings is the reasonable work-life expectancy for that individual. For instance, if the client's job involves physical labor, it may not be reasonable to assert that the individual would continue to work in that physical capacity up to the age of 72.
Whereas someone who is a lawyer, doctor, or person who is not engaged in a profession that involves a lot of physical work, may very well be able to reasonably assert that they might work right until their late 70's in the same capacity they carried out previously. That's something to consider when calculating future loss of earnings. For clients who are very badly injured and will experience a loss of future earning capacity, we usually hire experts to testify about those losses. One type of expert that we use is an economist. An economist can determine the total loss based on mathematical calculations. The other type of expert we retain is a vocational rehabilitation expert. A vocational rehabilitation expert can meet with the client and determine their level of disability, the type of jobs they are capable of performing, and the type of physical limitations the client has. Therefore, they are able to assess the type of employment the client would reasonably be capable of performing, if any, in the future. The vocational rehabilitation expert's opinions can be used by the economist expert to calculate the total loss of future earning capacity of the client.
Retaining such experts gets expensive. For this reason, the injuries have to be serious enough to warrant those kinds of expenses. The cost for the economist and vocational rehab experts' preparation of the reports and opinions can run up to $10,000 or more. To then have them testify at trial is even more expensive. However, using experts helps enhance a client's ultimate recovery for their injury.
For more information on Loss Of Earnings In A Personal Injury Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (760) 710-0190 today.