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How Much is Your Lost Career Worth?

A serious injury can have devastating consequences for a person’s work life. Someone who can’t continue a promising career because of a serious injury is often forced to start again, either to develop new skills or perhaps to quit work altogether. In the course of developing the claims that go into a personal injury lawsuit, and in the course of negotiating a settlement, the plaintiff needs to have a good basis for calculating the value of the injury’s impacts on the plaintiff’s work and career. Fairness dictates that plaintiffs must have a reliable basis for the damages they claim in a lawsuit. Among other things, a plaintiff must support a claim of damages with evidence, which may include financial records and other historical information, as well as expert testimony from an accountant who specializes in helping litigants calculate damages. Accountants will take into consideration a number of factors to arrive at a reasonable estimate of a plaintiff’s lost earning potential. These include:
  • The plaintiff’s age. The younger a plaintiff was at the time of an injury, the longer into the future a serious injury must be projected.
  • The plaintiff’s work history. Any projection of future earnings must be based in part on past performance.
  • The injury’s prognosis. If a plaintiff is expected to make a full or partial recovery, based on a physician’s diagnosis, that will be an important consideration in determining how much the defendant should be expected to pay.
  • Other compensation the plaintiff will receive. Typically, a plaintiff’s compensation from a defendant will be offset by other forms of compensation, like disability insurance. Such insurance rarely covers the entire scope of a plaintiff’s losses, so a plaintiff can seek to “top up” from the defendant.
  • Statistical averages. Every plaintiff is unique, but when an injury derails a career it is often helpful to reference the average career arc of other people in similar lines of work. For example, someone who is injured early in a career should be granted recovery for a reasonably foreseeable progression of promotions, job changes, and other things that could be expected to impact earnings potential over time if an injury hadn’t intervened.
  • Discounts for projected setbacks. In addition to using projected progress, an accountant also needs to allow for the possibility of negative events that could impact a plaintiff’s career over time. Things like the likelihood of future illness and even projections of changes to a plaintiff’s industry could be included as factors.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Approaches for Calculating Lost Earnings in a Personal Injury Case

Lost earnings can be among the most important components of the compensation a plaintiff can pursue in a personal injury case. Besides providing the plaintiff with the means to pay for the costs associated with medical care and recovery, a defendant should also be held responsible for the injury’s effect on the plaintiff’s ability to work, in both the short and long term. Although calculating lost earnings sounds like a fairly simple idea, in practice it involves a number of complex considerations that in some cases can require the advice and analysis of an expert. Personal injury cases seek a specific amount of compensation, which must be calculated in a way that is reasonable, fair, and based on provable facts. When a plaintiff sues for lost earnings, several factors must be taken into account:
  • The plaintiff’s earnings history. The simplest source of information about the plaintiff’s lost earnings is, of course, the plaintiff’s earning history in the period before the injury. For a plaintiff with a steady, full-time job, using earning history may be an appropriate way to arrive at a complete picture. Less clear are cases where the plaintiff’s income history is uneven or inconsistent. For example, a plaintiff who writes novels for a living may only earn a paycheck every two years, and the paychecks may have varied significantly from year-to-year.
  • The prognosis of the injury. In many cases the key component of lost earnings is an estimate of the injury’s long-term consequences for the plaintiff’s career. The defendant’s liability will be limited by the extent to which the plaintiff is expected to recover and resume work.
  • The plaintiff’s expected career arc. The longer an injury is expected to affect a plaintiff’s ability to work, the more complex the estimate of lost wages becomes. This analysis may involve several components, including the plaintiff’s age relative to expected retirement and the average career arc of others in similar jobs. Note that a plaintiff may not be able to recover for unusual, contingent career plans. For example, though a novelist might reasonably seek recovery based on the performance of previous works, it probably is inappropriate to argue that a future work would be a best seller.
  • Other forms of compensation. A plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation from a defendant may be reduced by other forms of compensation that are available to the plaintiff, including disability insurance.
Proving lost wages often requires the expert testimony of an accountant. Accountants who specialize in estimating lost earnings use established methods to analyze factors like those in the above list. Expert testimony helps the plaintiff arrive at a reliable estimate of lost earnings and gives the defendant a reliable means of reaching a fair settlement. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We work closely with each client to pursue the full scope of compensation for the consequences of their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.