Personal Injury and the Loss of Earning Capacity Claim

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personal injury loss of earning compensation

Pennsylvania’s Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

As part of personal injury compensation, you are entitled to collect compensation for your lost wages as well as future earnings you will now be denied due to your injury. When injuries are severe enough to affect your ability to earn a living, or the injuries are considered long-term, calculating your damages for loss of earning capacity is critical – because these damages are what you will live on.

What Qualifies as Lost Income in a Philadelphia Personal Injury Case

The loss of income request refers to the benefits or wages you have lost because of your injury. These are the wages you would have earned had you not suffered your injury. It includes the time you took off work to recover, visit the doctor, or even attend hearings for your claim.

For example, say your motor vehicle accident forced you to miss work for 30 days. You would have a lost income claim for the 30 days you could not work.

You can obtain damages for your lost wages by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party or their insurance company, and requesting compensation for your lost wages along with other costs. However, you must still prove the other party was at-fault and that your lost wages are valid.

The income lost does not have to be in a chunk either. If you were to miss 40 total days, but they were spread out over a period of several months, you can still request compensation for the lost hours and wages.

What Is a Loss of Earning Capacity?

Loss of earning capacity is another type of compensation you may request in your claim. When you have a decreased ability to make an income, you file for loss of earning capacity or impairment of earning power.

For example, your accident left you with a permanent injury, which impairs your ability to work in the future. You may be able to work part-time, or perhaps you can only work in a different career field. Regardless, the injury impacts your ability to make money in the future.

In this instance, you might qualify for a loss of earning capacity claim. Loss of earning capacity is determined by reviewing specific details, consulting experts, and calculating what a fair settlement might be.

What Factors Are Used to Calculate Loss of Earning Capacity?

  • Reviewing Work Abilities and Skills – Your attorney will consider your work profile, including education, talents, abilities, and overall work experience. This helps them determine what you are qualified to do – and if there are potential jobs elsewhere within your specific skill set this is an indication that you could work despite your injuries.
  • Consulting Medical Experts – A medical expert must testify about the severity of your injury, how it impacts your work, and how it would affect future job performance.
  • Market Values and Wages – Next, the market value and wage rates would be consulted to determine how much income you would have made in the future if the injury had not happened.

How Loss of Earning Capacity Differs from Lost Income Claims

Loss of earning capacity and lost wages are not the same but sometimes are accidentally associated with one another. Lost earning capacity is more difficult to prove because you are requesting compensation for something in the future – i.e., something that has not happened yet. Calculating the proper compensation for loss of earning capacity requires reasonable predictions, determining work capacity, and ensuring there is no potential for income later.

Loss of earning capacity is often highly contested because the opposition will have a team of experts stating you can still work, or trying to disprove your claims.

Conversely, actual lost income is relatively easy to prove in an injury claim. It requires you to supply your attendance record, pay stubs from work, and sometimes a letter from your employer verifying the information. With lost income, the court is reviewing facts from the past; therefore, they are easy to review and approve.

Proving Your Damages

Loss of earning capacity is highly scrutinized not only by the insurance claims adjuster but by the court. The court will make room for other factors, which can help prove or disprove your claim. They may consider promotions, improvements in your talent or skill, and then they must project the amount of income you could have made in a lifetime.

Your attorney will work alongside experts to help prove that your earning capacity claims are valid, and the amount you request is justified.

The purpose of this type of compensation is to supply the plaintiff with money they would have been able to make had they not been injured. But keep in mind that if you have contributed to your own injury you may have a reduced compensation amount given to you for your future lost wages – and other times the court may bar you from seeking future lost wages entirely.

Some ways your attorney works to prove that you have a legitimate claim for loss of earning capacity includes:

  • Using medical records and expert testimony to show that your condition has not improved and will not improve enough to return you to your previous working condition.
  • Using vocational rehabilitation specialists to testify that your injury impacts your job performance, your job options, and your overall ability to earn a living.
  • Using accountants and economists to show the cost of living, wages you would have earned, promotions available, and how the injury impacts your financial situation in the future.
  • Consulting with your employer to see what your current wages are, how you were performing on the job before the injury, and potential for promotions in the future.
  • Consulting job market specialists about the future of your specific industry, job demands, and more.

An Attorney Can Help with Your Injury Compensation

If you have an injury that is severe enough to impact your ability to earn a living, you might qualify for a loss of earning capacity claim. A personal injury attorney can advise you on how to file a complaint, as well as do the research and collect evidence to prove your claim.

To get started on your injury claim, schedule a free consultation with Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. by calling 800-465-8795 (office), 215-771-0430 (cell), or by filling out an online contact form.