Understanding Car Accident Claims

Not Just Lost Wages: Understanding Lost Earning Capacity

by Lois Gibson

When a car accident occurs, it can change your entire life. You may be suffering from physical injuries, a wrecked vehicle, and be out of work for the time being. You may have heard of one form of damage known as lost wages. Some accident victims, however, may qualify for a less common form of personal injury damages known as lost earning capacity. If the accident has left you with a reduced ability to perform at your career, read on to learn more.

Some Jobs Require More

While lost wages can help an accident victim to be reimbursed for the time missed from work, that might not be enough for some people. An accident that causes you to miss a lot of time from work might mean that your career is permanently affected by your absences, both past and future. The difference in lost wages and lost earning capacity has to do with the nature of your work and the severity of your injuries. A minor accident that resulted in an injury that healed quickly may qualify for reimbursement of lost wages. An accident that caused you to be out of work for some time and is still affecting your ability to do your job creates another money damage category that goes beyond lost wages.

Your Ability to Earn Has Been Damaged

Even if you are an hourly worker and do routine work, your career could be negatively impacted by a wreck. There are some jobs, however, that call for more than the usual levels of involvement, such as:

  • Sales jobs where you depend on your relationship with clients to earn your pay.
  • Jobs where you were previously in line for a promotion.
  • Self-employed victims with few or no employees to help do the work when they are unable to.
  • Jobs that require the use of body functions that are permanently affected by the wreck.
  • Business owners who are suffering a loss of income due to not being able to oversee the business properly.
  • Entertainers, artists, musicians, actors, and others who depend on their appearance, memory, cognitive skills, and more to be successful.

How to Prove Lost Earning Capacity

Extra steps beyond that of proving lost wages are necessary to prove lost earning capacity. For lost wages, you might need to show pay statements to prove loss of income, but for lost earning capacity, you should be prepared to show:

  1. A comparison of earnings between your income before the accident and income after the accident, which might include income tax returns, bank statements, profit and loss statements, and more.
  2. The statement of a vocational expert who can provide an expert opinion on the way the accident has affected your ability to do your job.
  3. Doctors notes, correspondence, and medical records showing the extent of your injuries, particularly those that continue to affect you.
  4. Journal entries or a calendar that demonstrates canceled appointments and missed work opportunities.

If you have been in an auto accident, speak to a car accident attorney to learn more about lost earning capacity.