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Suffering a personal injury can result in both physical pain and emotional trauma, as well as substantial financial challenges. These challenges typically stem from large medical expenses, physical or vocational rehabilitation costs, and the impact on income, affecting current and future earnings if your injury causes temporary or permanent disability.

A key component of your personal injury claim involves evaluating your reduced earning potential. This assessment aims to secure compensation for any future earnings you might forfeit because of your injury, encompassing not just your basic wage but also potential promotions and bonuses you would have received in the future if not for your injury.

Your South Carolina personal injury lawyer at Joye Law Firm can help you accurately assess your lost earning potential after an accident and secure a settlement to cover these damages.

What is Loss of Earning Potential in a Personal Injury Case?

Loss of earning potential refers to the financial setback a person experiences due to their reduced capacity to earn income after a severe injury. This can be a result of physical limitations, psychological trauma, or other factors that impede your ability to work and earn a living.

This loss is temporary in many cases, but it can be permanent in others. For example, if you break your leg in a slip and fall accident, you might be unable to work for a few months (temporary loss). However, if you suffer a severe spinal cord injury in a car crash, it could lead to a permanent disability, preventing you from ever regaining your full earning capacity.

Potential Causes of Permanent Loss of Earning Potential

Permanent loss of earning potential can often be caused by severe, long-lasting injuries or disabilities resulting from an accident, which affect a person’s ability to work or advance in their career.

  • Severe spinal cord injuries: These injuries can lead to paralysis or loss of motor function, limiting your ability to perform physically demanding tasks such as construction work or manual labor.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: TBIs from workplace falls or car accidents can lead to long-term cognitive impairments. This can impact your cognitive capacity and motor functions, affecting your career prospects.
  • Amputations: This type of injury can restrict your ability to perform specific job functions, such as operating equipment, potentially necessitating a career change.
  • Chronic pain conditions: Chronic back pain or nerve damage can make it challenging to sustain regular employment due to persistent discomfort and physical limitations.
  • Psychological trauma: After an accident, you may develop psychological trauma, causing severe emotional distress or PTSD. This can prevent you from functioning effectively in a work environment, affecting your long-term earning potential.

How Your Loss of Earning Potential is Calculated

Determining loss of earning capacity involves a thorough evaluation of numerous elements. At Joye Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys use various resources and strategies to calculate the total loss of your earning potential.

  • Current earnings assessment: We begin by examining your current earnings. This provides a baseline, representing your earnings before the injury occurred. This involves reviewing pay stubs, bank statements, employment contracts, W2s, and tax returns.
  • Career trajectory analysis: We gather information from various sources, including your employment records, industry benchmarks, expert consultations, and market research. This helps us understand your career progression and estimate the potential income you might have earned if the injury hadn’t happened.
  • Age and retirement: We review your current age and estimate the number of working years you would have had if not for the injury. This analysis helps us quantify the long-term financial consequences of the injury.
  • Education and skills: We assess your education level, skills, and training to estimate your potential for future earnings. This involves understanding how your qualifications and expertise contribute to your earning capacity.
  • Economic factors: To project future earnings, we consider economic factors like wage inflation rates that might impact your income potential. This adjusts your loss of earnings potential for changes in the economy.
  • Health and life expectancy: We consider your pre-existing health conditions and life expectancy to determine how long you would have likely continued working. This information helps in assessing the duration of your potential income loss.
  • Expert testimony: Our team often collaborates with economists or vocational experts who thoroughly analyze your lost earning potential. They use various models and statistical data to support their findings, providing a fact-based, unbiased viewpoint to the evaluation.
  • Intangible factors: We consider intangible factors that may be harder to quantify, such as loss of opportunities, inability to switch careers, or loss of job satisfaction. Although challenging to measure precisely, these factors can affect your earning potential.
  • Projected bonuses: If you regularly receive bonuses as part of your compensation package, such as performance bonuses, year-end bonuses, or other regular incentive payments, we analyze historical data and the likelihood of future bonuses based on your career trajectory.
  • Anticipated raises: We factor in expected salary increases through standard cost-of-living adjustments, promotions, or step increases in your career. This projection is based on your employment history, industry practices, and general economic conditions.
  • Long-term incentives: We also consider long-term incentives like stock options or profit-sharing plans for certain professions, especially if they were part of your standard compensation.

Factor Loss of Earnings into Your Case

In personal injury cases, loss of earnings potentially compensates you for the long-term financial consequences of your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury that has resulted in a loss of earning potential, seek legal counsel to help you receive fair compensation.

At Joye Law Firm, our experienced personal injury attorneys can use all resources available to determine your earnings-related losses.  Contact us for a free consultation and take the first step toward rebuilding your financial future.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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