Lost Earnings and Earning Capacity

In some car accidents or truck accident injury cases, the person injured may have suffered from lost earnings and earning capacity as a result of the accident.  Sometimes these lost earnings are easy to calculate, such as if a person is off work for a certain period of time.

In other cases, the injured person may suffer significant future lost earnings as a direct result of his or her accident.  In extreme cases, the person may never be able to work again in any capacity.  In less extreme cases, the person made no longer be able to work in the same capacity in which they were employed or trained prior to their injuries.  As an example, if a person worked in a job such as construction, or one which required heavy lifting, and they sustained a significant back injury, they may have to look for other work which may provide much lower lifetime wages.

The Baseline Assumptions for Lost Wages

As a starting point, it’s necessary to introduce evidence concerning the earning capacity of a person in their profession immediately prior to the accident.  How long would they have continued to work?  What would a likely progression be in terms of wages?  Typically an economist or financial expert is needed to provide statistical information to answer these and related questions.

Once assumptions are made for these variables, the future wages that the person would have been received can be reduced to a present value dollar amount.

Changing Occupations

If a person has to change occupations because of their injury, such change could significantly reduce their earnings over the course of their lifetime.  If this is the case, the person may be entitled to the damages in the amount of the “lost” earnings to the extent that they can prove these damages at trial.

In order to prove these damages, doctors and medical and economic experts may be necessary.  For instance, a doctor or medical expert is typically needed who can explain to the jury the new physical limitations that the injured person may be under.  An economic expert may be needed who can calculate the lost earnings over the course over the person’s lifetime in a new occupation which a person has the capacity to perform.

The earnings capacity for the person in this new occupation can then be determined, and reduced to a present value dollar amount.  Once this information is known, the person’s economic damages from lost wages can be determined by subtracting the present value of the earning capacity for the new occupation from the present value of the earnings capacity from the occupation that the person was in prior to their accident.

Burden of Proving Lost Earning Capacity

The burden of proving lost earning capacity is on the plaintiff (the person who has been injured), and it must be shown with reasonable certainty.  Proof of impairment of earning capacity does not require the same specificity or detail as does proof of loss of future wages. The plaintiff must prove that as a result of the injuries caused by the defendant’s conduct, an impairment of earning capacity is reasonably certain to occur.

What We Do In Proving Loss of Earnings or Earnings Capacity Damages

In proving damages for loss of earnings or earnings capacity diminution, we work with medical experts, vocational experts, and finance professionals to carefully establish your capacity for earnings prior to your accident and the expected earnings were the highest capacity in which you are qualified to work following your injury.  By carefully documenting your decreased ability to earn a living, we can seek damages from the defendants for this change.

Call Us to Find Out How Lost Earnings Capacity May Apply to Your Case

I offer a free, no-obligation consultation so that potential clients can learn more about the legal aspects of their case, and about how I and my firm will work tirelessly on their behalf to obtain the full measure of compensation to which they may be entitled.  We provide legal representation on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not owe us for any fees unless and until we recover for you.


16020 Swingley Ridge Rd., Suite 340
St. Louis, MO 63017

Contact Us 888.586.7041

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