Future earning capacity and lost wages are common personal injury damages. If you have been involved in an accident, at work or not, the party at fault may have to pay for a permanent reduction in your ability to earn wages. Injuries can affect plaintiffs in many ways. Injuries can cause a plaintiff pain when performing work duties. Injuries can diminish productivity at work. Injuries can limit the duties that a plaintiff can perform, in some cases, completely disabling them from performing the duties of their job. Defendants can be liable for making up the difference for what a plaintiff did earn and what they can earn after the injury.
A plaintiff can recover for lost wages. Lost wages can be past or future. Past lost wages can be calculated from pay stubs and based on what the plaintiff actually made prior to the injury. Future lost wages can be more abstract, but usually calculated in much the same way. However, personal injury laws do not require plaintiffs to prove an actual loss of wages or earnings. These awards are based on the plaintiff’s potential to make money, not actual money earned. Because it is based on potential, the law does not require a plaintiff to ever have exercised that potential.
Future Earning Capacity
Future earning capacity is not calculated based on actual earnings. Courts do not look at earnings before or after an injury. The damages are completely based on the plaintiff’s ability to earn money. This is done by an estimate of the court for earning capacity prior to the injury and compare that with the reduced earning capacity as a result of the injury. The purpose of these types of damages is that the injury has diminished the plaintiff’s earning capacity. Earning capacity is the ability to earn wages. Even if the plaintiff is unemployed at the time of the accident, this does not mean that they would never be employed at any time post accident. Therefore, the law allows a remedy for the ability to earn, not just what has been earned.
Even though the plaintiff may not be completely disabled, the law allows them to recover for the extent to which they are disabled. The plaintiff can still recover for future loss of earning capacity. The damages only compensate to the extent they are disabled and how it affects earning capacity. For example, if a plaintiff was employed as a laborer who earned $18 an hour pre-injury and could only work light duty for $10 an hour post-injury, the plaintiff will be able to recover the $8 an hour difference, not the entire $18. The law allows for plaintiffs to recover loss of future earning capacity for the remainder of their working years. This can lead to large damage amounts, especially with younger and healthier plaintiffs.
Lambert Zainey’s New Orleans personal injury attorneys represent plaintiffs who have suffered injuries. If you have an injury that affects your ability to work, call Lambert Zainey today for a case evaluation and get the compensation you deserve.