When you speak to a California personal injury attorney about your pending case, you will be asked about your loss of earnings. This refers to the loss of monetary income due to the injuries you’ve suffered in your accident. If the defendant in your case is found liable for your loss of earnings, he/she may be required to cover these in the damages award.
When you’ve been injured in some type of an accident, it’s very possible you may need to take time off from work. This is a situation that can cause you much worry, and rightfully so. The financial implications of not being able to earn a steady income can be very serious and even devastating as you obviously have many financial responsibilities to attend to.
If your injuries are severe, you may never be able to return to the job you had before your accident or you may no longer be fit for any type of work at all.Any reduction of your income following your personal injury is considered loss of earnings. This can include a loss of bonus payments, shift allowances or overtime you would have received if your injuries had not occurred.
A loss of earnings can place tremendous financial strain on you and your family. You may find it very difficult or impossible to pay your mortgage or rent, bills and to cover your living expenses. This can be very upsetting at a time in your life when everything is hard enough.
If you have to quit working altogether due to your injuries or are only able to work part-time, your future earnings and pension could be affected. This also can be considered by the court when deciding what compensation you are eligible for.
Proving Loss of Earnings
In order to succeed in getting as much compensation as possible, you will need to produce evidence to support any loss of earnings you’re claiming. If you work for someone else, the best way of going about this is to produce pay stubs for at least six months prior to the accident so that you can show a detailed history of how much money you earned. If you plan on claiming for lost overtime, you also will need to show that this overtime would have been available to you if you had not been forced to take time off from work due to your injuries. Additionally, you also will have to show that you regularly worked overtime before the accident.
Usually the court will assess your net average monthly wage for at least three months prior to the accident in order to calculate your average salary. This will be multiplied by your period of absence in order to calculate your loss of earnings claim.
If you are self-employed, it is a bit more complex to prove a loss of earnings claim. It is crucial that you keep records of your normal working hours and of all invoices and contracts you are unable to fulfill due to your injuries. Your accountant should be told about your absence from work and about all losses your business is experiencing due to the accident you were involved in. In order to assess your net loss, your accountant should be ready to provide details of your business accounts for at least three years prior to the accident.
Injuries that Can Prevent You From Earning an Income
There are all types of injuries that can cause you to have a loss of earnings including:
Soft Tissue Injuries -Injuries such as back strains, neck stains, knee strain or ankle sprains are called soft tissue injuries because they only involve muscle and other soft tissue. This type of injury can prevent you from sitting at a desk for long periods of time or from standing, bending and walking which may all be required of you at your place of employment.
Hard Injuries -Hard injuries are considered more serious than soft tissue injuries. Therefore the value of personal injury claims is usually higher when a plaintiff can prove he/she has hard injuries. Hard injuries can include the following:
Broken Bones – Like other types of injuries, broken bones can be serious. The mores serious you can prove a broken bone to be in terms of impact on your life, the more your claim is deemed valid and valuable. If you broke a bone in an auto accident or another type of accident like a slip and fall, you may be out of work for months. If the break was very serious, you may have to undergo surgery which could leave you without an income for even longer.
Head Injuries – When anyone suffers a head injury, it is possible that the effects of the injury will be more long-lasting than what was initially thought. Many head injury victims find that they are unable to return to work for months following their injuries. In the worst cases, head injured individuals are never able to return to work as their injuries have greatly affected their brain function.
Separations, Dislocations – If you suffered a joint dislocation or separation, you may have had to undergo surgery in order to repair the problem. It can take weeks and even months to recover from surgery you’ve undergone to repair the damages done by joint separation or dislocation. In order to prove that your loss of earnings is due to a separation, dislocation or even ligament or cartilage tear, it is necessary that you keep good records of all medical documentation that’s related directly to your injuries.
Spinal or Vertebrae Injuries – Among the most devastating injuries are those which occur to the spine or vertebrae. If you have a spinal or vertebrae injury, you many be facing months or even years away from work. It is important to keep good medical records related to your back injury to ensure that you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Neck Injuries – Many victims of automobile accidents sustain neck injuries which can range from minor strains to whiplash and even fractures of the neck. If you’ve sustained a serious neck injury, your doctor may tell you not to return to work for an extended period of time. When settling your personal injury claim, your attorney will need documented proof of your neck injury as it relates to your accident so that he/or she can help you gain monetary damages related to your loss of earnings.
Future Loss of Earnings
If your injuries have permanently limited your ability to earn wages, you may be eligible for future loss of earnings damages. Future loss of earnings is not figured according to the actual amount of money you earned either before or after your injuries. Instead, the court will estimate what your earning capacity was prior to the accident and then compare it to the reduced earning capacity resulting from your injuries. Any award granted will be based on the difference in potential earning power and not on what you actually earned in the past.
The basic premise of future loss of earnings is that the injuries have seriously diminished the plaintiff’s capacity to earn wages in the future. So, even if you were unemployed prior to or at the time of the accident, you can still be awarded future loss of earnings.