How Do You Calculate Earning Capacity in a Lawsuit?
In a personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs receive financial compensation known as “damages.” Economic damages reimburse someone for money they’ve already lost or stand to lose. If you win your case, you can be compensated for money you spent on medical bills or property damage. You can also receive restitution for lost wages, and this is where things get tricky.
At first, compensation for lost wages seems like a simple, one-to-one transaction. Here is the money you lost in recovery, and you are given that money back. It can, however, be much more complicated.
There are many factors to consider. For example, perhaps you took sick time in recovery, and you didn’t miss any paychecks. However, you may be entitled to receive the equivalent of the money you earned during that time. Now that you’ve burned through those sick days, you can’t get them back, and you may need that income later for a time when you get sick.
Things get even murkier when you lost a job or a promotion due to your recovery. How is something like that calculated? At that point, any lost wages are speculative. All personal injury lawsuits are based on what the plaintiff believes they deserve. If you ask for too much, the case could be considered frivolous and thrown out. Asking for too little may leave you with less than you need to get by.
Here are some ways you and your attorney can calculate an appropriate, reasonable claim for lost wages.
As previously mentioned, you can be directly reimbursed for any wages you lost or sick time you took. You could also include projections for future loss. Such projections are tailored to the individual. For instance, you and a coworker may work the same job for the same wage. However, you are more experienced and have a greater degree of education. In such cases, you stand to make more than them in the near future. If you were both injured and filed lawsuits, your lost potential wages could be higher than theirs.
Where you work and the kind of work you do matter in a lost wages claim. If you work in a highly specialized field, a debilitating injury causes you to lose a lot of money.
Anyone could be in this situation, even people with regular jobs. Their industry could be on the rise, or their company may have plans to pay its workers a higher wage. This is a strong possibility in today’s environment, as conversation about raising the minimum wage continues.
Your attorney will investigate the field in which you work, looking at your pay vs. the average, median wage. If you make more than average, you losing the job means losing your substantial income. If you make less than average, you could be on the path to quick advancement, meaning you have more potential income to lose. The industry itself could be on the rise, with workers making more than expected. In that case, you should be amply compensated for your troubles.
Your attorney will take all of these facts into consideration, and they will project a figure that represents all of your lost income.
When calculating your lost wages, your attorney considers how attractive you are to potential employers. For example, your education is a part of your marketability, as is any certifications you’ve earned.
You may have varied qualifications. These days, it’s common for people to make moves across careers, gaining skills as they go. For example, you could have started your professional life as a teacher but then moved into marketing writing. This packs your resume with skills that make it possible for you to move into even more fields. Now that you’re incapable of working, those skills could go to waste, and you can receive comparable damages.
Furthermore, you may have a history of advancement. If someone overlooks your professional life and sees continued promotions and upward movement, this is a good indicator that you are an attractive employee. People want your skills, and you have the potential to make even more money.
Your most recent paycheck is not a reflection of how much money you could make in the future. When an injury renders your skills and work history useless, you should be compensated accordingly.
If someone else’s negligent behavior has left you unable to work, you may be entitled to a sizable sum of damages. Contact our office for a free consultation, and tell us your story. We may be able to help. Our number is (918) 347-6456, and you can contact us online.