Proving Lost Income and Earning Capacity
Experienced Car Crash Lawyers Helping Chicago Residents
After a serious car accident that causes injuries, you may not be able to work, or your ability to earn income may be reduced. Meanwhile, you may also be facing enormous medical bills, both from an emergency room visit and from subsequent medical treatment. If you sustain a catastrophic injury, you may lose your earning capacity permanently. Proving lost income and earning capacity can be accomplished through several different methods. However, it is important to retain a Chicago car accident attorney with experience presenting this kind of information persuasively to insurance adjusters, judges, and juries. Call Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca if you are concerned about your lost income after a car accident caused by someone else.
Proving Lost Income and Earning Capacity
Generally, it is possible to prove lost income and lost earning capacity by using any competent evidence. Lost income is proven by showing how much was earned before the accident and how much was earned afterward. Lost earning capacity is distinct from lost income, which is what a person actually earned in gross wages at the time of the accident. Earning capacity is what someone could be anticipated to earn if they maximized the expectation of their actual earnings. For example, after a traumatic brain injury, a neurosurgeon’s earning capacity could drop by millions of dollars.
Among other things, when we represent an individual plaintiff on the issue of lost earning capacity, our attorneys will present evidence during settlement negotiations and at trial about the nature and extent of the injury that interfered with earning capacity, how long that injury lasted or whether it is permanent, and the value of earning capacity both before and after the accident that resulted in lost earning capacity.
Your actual earnings prior to an accident are crucial to establishing both lost income and lost earning capacity. However, proof of lost wages is not controlling for the purposes of proving the loss of earning capacity. Your earning capacity before an accident often involves your age, education, occupation, talents or intelligence, health, habits, skills, experience, probable increases in skill and ability, and rates of wages paid to people in the same vocation. All of these factors are especially important if you have trained to work in a specific job but have not yet started working in that job prior to the accident. Also important when you have not actually started working in a particular occupation is submitting evidence of coursework that you completed that would have allowed you to work in a particular occupation. Evidence such as coursework or training can also be useful when arguing that before the accident, you were anticipating your income to grow.
Juries are not allowed to base their award on speculation. Whatever we present must be based on competent evidence because if the court determines that the verdict was based on speculation, the verdict will not stand.
Proving lost income and earning capacity can be more complex if a plaintiff is self-employed. In one Illinois case, a self-employed cattle buyer was injured in a car accident and tried to obtain damages for lost earning capacity. The appellate court reasoned that when a plaintiff does not draw a formal salary from a business that they operate and that employs them, the court can consider the plaintiff’s company’s diminution of profits as proof of monetary damages when a plaintiff’s work is the dominant reason for profits. However, if a self-employed plaintiff’s involvement in a business is passive, and other people do the work of making a profit, the diminution in profits is not the proper damages element.
In some cases, it is necessary to retain an experienced expert to testify as to more complicated features of lost earning capacity, such as those associated with self-employment or a business owned by the plaintiff.
Discuss Your Options with a Skilled Car Accident Attorney in Chicago
If you were injured in a car accident and are concerned about proving lost income and earning capacity, you should consult a personal injury attorney who works with credible and knowledgeable experts. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent victims of distracted and otherwise negligent drivers in Chicago, Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other areas of Cook, Kane, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Adams Counties. Call us at 312-724-5846 for a free consultation.