Not All Lost Wage Claims Are The Same
Often when people are in accidents, they know that they are out of work for either a shorter or an extended period of time. Those lost wages are recoverable in your personal injury case, and they often are relatively easy to calculate: just figure out what you would have made in the time period that you were out of work, and that’s your lost wage claim.
But sometimes, the lost wages aren’t just from a time you were recently out of work. Sometimes, the lost wages are in the future—in other words, looking forward, your injuries, or the treatment for them, will keep you from working to the maximum amount that you normally would.
Looking Into the Future
When that is anticipated, you have a future lost wage claim. Because future lost wages haven’t actually happened yet—you haven’t lost that work or those wages just yet—they take a special kind of proof, to be compensated for those future lost wages from a jury.
One kind of lost wage is obvious—you will be out of work in the future. If a doctor says that you need a surgery, for example, and the surgery has a recovery period, you can ask a jury to compensate you for the time that it is anticipated you will not be able to work.
Loss of Earning Years
But other lost wage claims aren’t so obvious or easy to calculate or anticipate.
Sometimes, you will be able to work, and there are no medical procedures that are anticipated to keep you out of work. However, because of your injury, and the anticipated effect it will have on your body, your “working life” will be shortened.
Imagine a construction worker with a back injury, and it is anticipated that the back will slowly get worse and worse. Whereas that construction worker normally could have anticipated working until, say, 65 years old, doctors testify that he or she will start to have degenerative problems in the back because of the injury at around the age of 50.
Now, that victim has potentially lost, or can anticipate losing, about 10-15 of working years.
Loss of Earning Capacity
In some cases a victim won’t lose any years of working life, but he or she may not be able to progress in his or her career. In other words, the claim now is not lost wages because the victim won’t be able to work at all, but rather, the promotions and career advancements (and attendant salary and wage increases) that the victim would have otherwise anticipated making, will not be possible.
Many lost wage claims require the combined testimony of doctors, to testify how your body will react to injury long term, as well as economists and labor specialists, to testify what income will be lost going forward.