How is Loss of Wages Determined in a Personal Injury Case ?

judge gavel settlementA personal injury may result in long-term disability that makes resuming prior employment or earning pre-accident income levels an impossibility. When this occurs, the law affords aggrieved parties the opportunity to pursue compensation for those losses. But how can lost wages, reduced earning potential and related damages be accurately assessed?

Lost wage calculations

Accident victims who enjoyed regular employment by a company, individual or other such entity will have a rather straightforward task ahead in establishing exactly how much income they have lost. By submitting employer-provided and other documentation concerning their typical work schedule, rate of pay and days missed due to injuries sustained, a plaintiff or claimant can quickly prove the income of which they have been deprived by the defendant’s negligence. Those who work on a seasonal or irregular work schedule may find this part of the process a bit more challenging, but could utilize pre-accident bank deposit records, tax returns, client correspondence and calendar data to show what has been lost in terms of anticipated income.

Sick time and vacation pay

So that family income does not decrease during an extended period of convalescence and recovery, it is not uncommon for accident victims to utilize accrued vacation and sick days. While this does not represent a direct loss of income, a monetary benefit has in fact been forfeited for which the employee is entitled to be compensated. But for the accident at issue, the victim could have used his or her vacation and sick days for any other permissible purpose, and thus they represent a loss that needs to be repaid.

Loss of benefits, pension contributions and more

Expected bonus payments, sales commission payments, pension contributions and scheduled pay raises that would likely have taken effect had the employee been present may well be among the classifications of compensation obtainable by a skilled personal injury attorney.

Diminished earning potential

While not as easily calculable, another critical realm of lost income potentially recoverable by a personal injury plaintiff is that of diminished future earning capacity. Sadly, it is often the case that an injured party is rendered incapable of returning to their previous line of work or level of employment, regardless of the medical care or treatment they receive. As a result, their future ability to provide for themselves and their families can be profoundly limited when compared to what it would otherwise have been. Testimony from employment and economic loss experts combined with detailed financial data can be utilized to establish the effect of the plaintiff’s injury on any future earning potential and help ensure that proper compensation is provided. Key factors in this type of analysis could include a review of:

  • The type of injuries sustained and estimated recovery times
  • Victim’s educational history, employment background and skill level
  • Chances of full or partial rehabilitation
  • Income effects of a limited, but not total return to work
  • Forfeited advancement opportunities within the relevant field of employment

Lost opportunities for career advancement

Another related, yet distinct classification of lost income which may be recoverable in a personal injury matter has to do with imminent advancement opportunities which can be shown to have been forfeited due to the accident event. Evidence used to establish scenarios of this type might include correspondence in which a job promotion was discussed, interview schedules, information about the impending commencement of a business venture, and the like. Though these types of losses are not as easily demonstrated as some of the others outlined above, if good quality documentation exists, it is certainly possible for a plaintiff to succeed in such a claim.

Dedicated advocacy in Rockland County and Bergen County injury cases

Whether caused by an auto accident, a dog attack, a dangerous consumer product or any other type of negligence attributable to another party, the attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman understand precisely how devastating a personal injury can be. Our NY & NJ personal injury attorneys are committed to providing clients in Rockland County and Bergen County with the type of individualized service necessary to get to the factual heart of each case we accept and to aggressively pursue fair compensation.

If you have been harmed because of the negligent acts or omissions of others, please know that zealous advocates for your rights are close at hand. For a no-cost initial consultation, contact us today by phone or online.

Additional “lost wages calculator” resources

  1. Workers’ Compensation Board NY, Guidelines for Determining Permanent Impairment and Loss of Wage Earning Capacity,
  2. Sapling, How to Write a Lost Wage & Income Demand Letter,