Loss of Earnings/Diminished Earning Capacity
Some accident victims may miss time from work as they heal from their injuries. If you miss time from work because of an accident or injury, you could be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings. In addition, if you sustained a permanent impairment, you may also receive compensation for diminished earning capacity.
Being out of work for long periods of time can cause significant financial hardship.
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Filing a Claim for Loss of Earnings After a Personal Injury
Numerous situations and accidents may result in a loss of earnings claim. If you are out of work because of an injury, you are entitled to reimbursement for lost wages. Personal injury cases that might result in a loss of wages claim include, but are not limited to:
- Slip and fall accidents (premises liability claims)
- Car accident claims
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Defective products (product liability claims)
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
You have the burden of proving that you lost income because you could not work as a result of the injury. At the very least, your doctor must provide a statement explaining why your injury prevents you from performing the specific task required by your job.
The insurance company may challenge the doctor’s statement and request an independent examination by another doctor. If you receive a letter requesting an independent medical examination, seek legal advice from a Fort Worth accident lawyer immediately.
You must also prove the amount of lost wages you incurred because of the injury. A statement from your employer detailing your work history, income, and missed time from work may be sufficient.
However, the insurance company may require copies of tax returns, income statements, pay advices, and other evidence of past earnings.
Filing a Claim for Future Income Loss After an Accident
Permanent impairment or disability may impact your ability to work. If so, you may be entitled to compensation for future lost wages and lost earning capacity.
A claim for future lost wages is usually filed when you lose your ability to earn money because of a total and complete disability. In other words, you cannot perform any substantial gainful activity to earn an income.
On the other hand, if you have a partial impairment that allows you to work, but not earn the same income level as before the injury, you may file a loss of earning capacity claim.
Earning capacity claims allege that the at-fault party’s negligence has negatively impacted your working life. Therefore, you should be compensated for the difference in earnings you would have received had it not been for the accident and the wages you are able to earn with the impairment.
Proving Loss of Earnings and Diminished Earning Capacity Claims
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached the duty of care
- The breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of your injuries (causation)
- You sustained damages as a result of the breach of duty
If you are successful, you still have a battle to prove you are entitled to compensation for loss of earnings.
Proving loss of earning begins with proving that your injuries prevent you from earning income. Then, you must prove how your injuries impair your ability to work. Finally, you must prove the amount of money you would have earned had it not been for the injury.
Expert testimony from medical, financial, and vocational experts is used to prove the elements of your claim. The amount of money you receive for a loss of earnings or diminished earnings claim depends on factors such as:
- The extent of your impairment or disability
- Your age and health
- Your education, experience, and skills
- Your career or job
- Whether you could work in another type of job
- Your anticipated age of retirement
- The anticipated outlook for your job
- The expected rate of inflation
The insurance company may refute the claim by providing its own expert witnesses regarding your injuries and future earnings. Recovering future lost wages when you are entirely disabled is not as difficult as proving a diminished earning capacity claim.
Diminished earning capacity requires more evidence proving the difference between what you could have earned and what you will earn given your impairments. Total disability only requires proving how much you would have earned had you continued working.
Contact Our Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
The bottom line is that you deserve to be compensated for all damages, including lost earnings. Our legal team at Stephens Law fights for fair compensation for loss of income after an accident.
Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced accident attorneys in Fort Worth, TX.