Have you been hurt in a car accident and are worried you won’t be able to work as long in the future? Does your personal injury mean you now have trouble completing your job at the level you did previously, whether that means you work a reduced number of hours per week or find yourself unable to do the amount of physical work you once could? Or perhaps you’ve suffered a chronic injury that will require costly medical treatment for the rest of your life.
All of these things—known as “future losses”—contribute to the amount of damages you can claim in your personal injury lawsuit.
Unfortunately, there’s no looking into a crystal ball to know the exact future losses you will suffer as a result of your car accident. However, there are methods of assessment and case law that will aid your personal injury lawyer in estimating your future losses, as well as the judge in awarding damages—or monetary compensation—for those losses.
1. Loss of earning capacity
Loss of earning capacity takes into account the fact that a person with a long-term injury may be less competitive as an employee than a healthy person. This includes, for example, if your prospects of being promoted in future are diminished due. If your personal injury is likely to affect your earning capacity beyond the time of the trial in this way, then your lawyer will be able to argue for damages to cover the loss of earnings.
2. Loss of future income
Loss of future income, in contrast to loss of earning capacity, arises when you are no longer able to continue the employment you had at the time of your accident. This includes if you have had to take alternate employment at a lower salary or if you are no longer able to work at all due to your personal injury.
4. Future care needs
Not only do lost costs from income not earned need to be taken into consideration when setting damages, there are also future payments for the care of an injury that must be accounted for. This can include, for example, the costs of a nursing attendant, housekeeping services, driver services, and medications and medical equipment.
5. Calculating future losses
If you are unable to work as a result of your accident, the damages claimed for loss of future income will be a reflection of your past earnings, how many years you have left before retirement, and inflation and expected salary increases. However, there are many other factors, which are in turn given various weights, that go into deciding the amount of damages, including what possible career path you may have followed if your accident had never occurred.
Given the complexities of determining future losses, there is a good chance your lawyer will employ the services of an actuary to help with your case. An actuary is a professional who uses statistics to determine the probability of an event happening. In this case, that event is the future career path that you are no longer able to follow due to your personal injury.
It is important to note that the amount of damages you can sue the other driver’s insurance for is not the full amount of lost income, but rather the amount to “top up” your lost salary after long-term disability and other insurance payouts are accounted for.
It is also important to note that damages for a personal injury are often paid in one lump sum, rather than in installments over a number of years.
6. Proving future losses
To claim damages for future earnings loss, you must be able to prove you had regular employment before your injury occurred. This can be done through your employment records and income tax reports—in other words, there must be a paper trail that proves the level of income you were earning before the accident.
To prove diminished earning capacity, your financial records must show a dip in income. To prove loss of future income, your medical reports must conclude that you are unable to return to work due to the personal injury you have suffered as a result of the car accident.