When you are injured after an accident, it is common to miss work. In some cases, you are only out of work for a short period. In other cases, an injury can change the course of your entire career. If you suffer an injury that prevents you from working, your lost earnings are part of your damages.
You have the right to collect your losses from the person responsible for your injuries. When you are unable to work in the future beyond the time it takes to resolve your case, your damages are called loss of income. Your personal injury attorney can provide you with critical information on how to recover from the loss of earning capacity in your Las Vegas injury case.
Lost earning capacity vs. lost wages
Loss of earning capacity refers to the income you probably would have made had you not been injured. It’s speculative because you can’t know for sure what would have happened if you hadn’t hurt yourself. Loss of earning capacity tries to measure, as closely as possible, what could have been gained if the accident had not occurred.
Lost earning capacity is separate and different from lost wages. Lost wages represent the actual and measurable loss of income from the time of your injury until the time the claim is settled. Lost wages are fairly easy to measure. Even if you are self-employed or earn bonuses, you should be able to quantify your lost wages to a reasonable degree of certainty. While lost wages measure what has already happened, lost earning capacity tries to look to the future.
How is the loss of earning capacity demonstrated?
Although proving the loss of earning capacity requires a bit of guesswork, it is still important to present concrete evidence. You should consider any facts that may show your losses. Some of the facts and pieces of evidence that you can present in your case are:
- Earnings before your injury
- Opportunities for promotions.
- Job performance and evaluations
- Number of years of work before retirement
- Growth in the industry.
- Typical increases
- How long your injuries are expected to last
- If you can return to a different job for a reduced salary
No factor ultimately answers the question. There are no guidelines on how much the jury must weigh each item. Instead, the jury must examine all the circumstances present in the case. Although there is speculation involved in determining the loss of earning capacity, the jury must examine genuine evidence when making a determination in your case.
There are strict time limits for taking your case . When you are unable to work long term, your case may go through the courts long before you can begin work again. Nevada courts and law anticipate this problem. The fact that you cannot accurately assess your damages should not prevent you from charging a reasonable amount for your future lost earnings.
However, one thing that can get in your way is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to formally present your case. In most personal injury cases in Nevada, the limit is two years from the day you are injured. If you miss this deadline, you cannot get any recovery. Fortunately, proving the loss of earning capacity doesn’t require you to have a crystal ball. Instead, you only need to demonstrate what would likely have happened if you had continued working.
How do I prove my case?
Once you have identified what type of evidence you have, you should prepare to present your case. You’ll want to call witnesses to testify about things like your past salary, the professional outlook in your occupation, and your new limitations. Some of these witnesses may be known to you, and others may be experts you work with, for the sole purpose of presenting your case. Witnesses you may call include:
- Employer: They can declare about your salary, job performance and raises that you probably would have received.
- Friends and Family – Your friends and family know how your injuries have changed your life. They also know what your career ambitions were.
- Medical Professionals: Professionals know what your injuries are. They can tell the jury about your long-term prognosis.
- Vocational Experts – Specialists in this area can help the jury connect the dots between your injuries and your career limitations. They can explain to you how you cannot work in the same capacity and what treatment you will need to re-enter the workforce.
- Economists – An economist can provide information on salary trends in their field. They can help the jury understand typical career and lifetime earnings for someone in a similar situation.
Nevada Jurisprudence and Things to Consider
- The Nevada Supreme Court has stated that you can use a professional economist and expert to prove your loss of earning capacity case, provided the witness meets the requirements to testify as an expert.
- There is no fixed period that you must be out of work to claim loss of earning capacity. If you are going to be out of work for a period that extends beyond the time limits of the case, you can file a claim for loss of earning capacity.
- Loss of Earning Capacity is a fact-based investigation. If you are young or have questions about your career path, the jury can take these uncertainties into account.
How can an attorney help?
If you are unable to work after a personal injury , you deserve fair compensation. You and your loved ones depend on you, and Nevada law provides compensation for the loss of earning capacity after an injury.
While the loss of earning capacity is only one area of damage, it can be crucial to your recovery, especially if you will be out of work for an extended period. An experienced injury attorney can help you identify your loss of income and build the evidence to prove your case. They can make sure that you efficiently gather evidence and present your case to the jury in the best possible way.
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