If you are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, seeking your rightful compensation is critical to your ability to make your fullest recovery and regain your health and well-being to the extent possible. While the basic losses for which you can seek compensation include your medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, each category of loss can be extensive and requires considerable attention. For example, if your lost earnings extend to a loss of earning capacity, the matter is that much more serious, and it’s time to reach out to an experienced Austin injury lawyer for the professional legal guidance you need.
What’s In This Guide
- Your Lost Earnings
- Your Lost Earning Capacity
- Supporting Your Claim of Lost Earning Capacity
- Factors that Can Play a Role
- Your Pain and Suffering
Your Lost Earnings
If you are seriously injured by someone else’s negligence, you’re naturally going to experience time lost on the job while you attend to your recovery. Being unable to work generally means a decrease in earnings in the interim, but there can be much more to it than that. If your injuries interfere with your ability to return to work at all, the overall financial losses you experience can be devastating. If, however, your injuries interfere with your ability to do your job and to continue advancing your career, they can lead to a decrease in your earning potential, which amounts to a lifetime of financial loss and should be carefully addressed in your personal injury claim.
Your Lost Earning Capacity
Your lost earning capacity refers to the amount you can have earned if the other party’s negligence hadn’t foiled your ability to do so. This loss of earning capacity is separate and distinct from your lost earnings or lost income (while you are off the job and tending to your recovery). In fact, even those who are unemployed at the time of an injury-causing accident can pursue compensation for lost earning capacity if their ability to earn into the future is affected. If your ability to earn a living is affected by the accident associated with the personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for your financial losses, and the jury in your case (if your claim goes to trial) has considerable discretion in determining the extent of your losses (and the dollar amount).
Supporting Your Claim of Lost Earning Capacity
If your ability to earn into the future is affected by the other party’s negligence, you can expect proving this loss to be legally challenging, and you’re well advised to have a dedicated personal injury attorney with proven experience successfully handling these complex claims in your corner. Demonstrating a loss in your earning potential will hinge on the supporting evidence that you and your attorney carefully compile, including:
- Your relevant medical records
- Documentation of your age, education, overall health, and job outlook prior to the injury-causing accident
- Documents related to past earnings, including your W-2s
- Documentation, including paystubs that demonstrates a decrease in your earnings following the injury-causing accident in question
- Expert testimony from doctors and employment professionals with relevant expertise
- A detailed list of the tasks that the injuries you have sustained prevent you from completing (cross-referenced with relevant job descriptions)
If you are self-employed, the path forward can be even more complex, but you retain the right to seek fair compensation for your loss of earning capacity. The kind of evidence you will need to produce in support of your claimed losses include:
- Your 1099s from the current and prior years (if you are a freelance worker)
- The income and profits records from your business (if you are a business owner)
- Medical records that demonstrate your inability to engage in the work you need to complete
- Testimony from witnesses with relevant knowledge regarding why you’re unable to maintain your business or continue working in your freelance capacity (either at all or to the same degree you can work prior to the accident).
Factors that Can Play a Role
Because the financial stakes are higher when your earning potential plays a role in your personal injury claim – and because the insurance company is heavily invested in keeping your settlement as low as it can possibly manage – proving your lost earning potential is exceptionally challenging. Several primary factors that can play a critical role in the process, however, include:
- Your income prior to the accident in question
- Future raises on the horizon, and all expected salary increases
- Your expected earning potential across your lifetime
- Increases in earnings based on the cost of living
- Increases in earnings based on the rate of inflation
Each of these factors should receive the careful attention it deserves in calculating your lost earning potential.
Your Pain and Suffering
Personal injury claims like yours can also address your physical and psychological pain and suffering, and while pain and suffering is a separate category of loss (or legal damage), there can be overlap. Because our careers tend to play a primary role in our identities – and our sense of place in the world – a considerable loss in this arena (such as one that affects your ability to earn) can also carry significant emotional consequences (in addition to the hefty financial effects). If your life’s focus was growing and advancing your career, the effects could be even more significant.
Do Not Delay Consulting with an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney
If someone else’s negligence causes you to experience a loss in earning capacity, the financial (and emotional) consequences can be profound. Fortunately, the compassionate Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm recognize the challenges you face ahead and have the keen legal skill, insight, and drive to help. Your claim is too important to leave to chance, and our capable legal team is well prepared and well-positioned to help. We are on your side, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 for more information about what we can do to help you today.