Estimating Future Income (Lost Earnings) in a Personal Injury Claim

If your injury affects your ability to earn income, you should include that loss in your settlement offer. Here's how it's calculated.

In any personal injury case, a key component of your damages (the compensation you will receive) is the income you have lost and the income you can expect to lose due to your injuries. But while your past lost income may be fairly easy to calculate, things get a little more muddy when it comes to your expected future income losses, and especially your "lost earning capacity" -- which means your ability to make a living in either the job you had before or in a comparable one.

Proving your lost future earnings in a personal injury case usually comes down to a combination of financial documentation and the testimony of expert witnesses who are qualified to offer an opinion on your physical limitations and the potential impact that those limitations will have on your earning ability.

Every case is different, and there are too many variables to come up with a comprehensive list, but here are a few common factors that will affect your lost future earnings in an injury case (and many of these factors will need to be touched upon as part of your obligation to prove your damages):

* A comprehensive assessment of your injuries and a timeline of your prospects for a full recovery.

* If full recovery is not anticipated or you have long-term injuries,  a realistic picture of your capabilities and limitations (from an employment standpoint) once you reach maximum recovery.

* An analysis of the nature of your current employment duties and any prospective employment duties you are trained and qualified to carry out, in light of the limitations stemming from your injuries -- including the financial implications of different employment options.

* A forecast of the income you could have reasonably expected to receive had you not been injured, contrasted with a forecast of the income you can reasonably expect to receive post-injury.    

* Any promotion (in terms of position and salary) or other advancement that you could reasonably have expected to achieve.

Especially in cases where your injuries will have a significant impact on your ability to earn a living, it's a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced injury attorney.  Your lawyer will know what information to track down, and the kinds of expert witnesses to retain, to best prove  the financial side of your injury case.

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