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Determining Your Lost Earning Potential After an Accident

By Gerald Connor
Determining Your Lost Earning Potential After an Accident

When determining a victim’s lost earning potential after an accident, the person’s age, past wages, skills, experience, level of education, and missed opportunities are all considered. When the victim proves that his or her ability to earn money in the future has been impacted by the accident, compensation for lost earning capacity can be substantial.

What is Lost Earning Capacity?

Lost earning capacity is the difference between what people will earn in light of their disabling conditions and what they could reasonably have expected to earn had their injuries not occurred. Illinois courts allow juries to award damages in personal injury claims for lost earning capacity provided there is evidence establishing the loss of earning potential. An accident victim’s ability to recover damages is not affected if the person was not employed at the time of the accident.  If victims are working and earning more after their accidents than they did before their injuries occurred, they will not be able to recover for lost earning capacity.

Projected Earning Potential

Numerous factors are used to calculate what a person might have earned had they not suffered a disabling injury. The victim’s age and work history is just the beginning. When deciding what injury victims would have earned, juries consider the victim’s experience, skills, and abilities, as well as the current market values and wage rates for the person’s profession. The average career arc for those in similar paths and the possibility of future negative events happening that could affect people‚Äôs careers are also taken into account.

Proving Lost Earning Capacity

Providing past employment, tax, and financial documentation is helpful for determining the actual value of an accident victim’s earning potential that has been lost due to their disabling injuries. Past check stubs and direct deposit documentation are often used as evidence to demonstrate current and recent past earnings. Showing the total earnings for the previous years and submitting past tax records can track raises and career growth from one year to the next. People may also include employment letters in their personal injury claims. Letters from the employer may help courts analyze the victim’s current job duties and the financial implications of taking another position. They may also serve to forecast the income people could have reasonably expected to earn and the promotions and advancements they could have reasonably expected to achieve.