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Hurt in an Accident? You May Be Entitled to Damages For Loss of Future Earning Capacity

Jun 29, 2018 - Personal Injury, Tuscaloosa by

If you have suffered injuries in an accident due to another’s fault, then Alabama law may give you the right to recover damages to cover a range of different losses, including damages for the loss of future earning capacity.  Loss of future earning capacity is a unique damage claim that many injured plaintiffs are actually unaware of — unlike the standard wage loss claim, which is somewhat related, a damage claim involving the loss of future earning capacity is fundamentally uncertain.

Loss of Future Earning Capacity is a Projection

In Alabama, plaintiffs may be entitled to recover damages for their loss of earning capacity when their injuries are substantial enough to diminish their ability to earn.

For example, if you are an office worker, but you suffer a severe back injury in a motor vehicle accident that renders you unable to work full-time, then you have likely had your future earning capacity diminished by your injury.  You would have to calculate the hours you are now capable of working (and what you’re capable of in the future) and compare the total earnings with what you would have otherwise been able to earn had you never been injured.

There is an inherent uncertainty that accompanies damage claims for loss of future earning capacity.  As such, Alabama courts have emphasized that plaintiffs seeking to recover such damages must establish:

  1. Reasonable certainty of the injury at-issue;
  2. That the injury impaired the earning capacity of the injured plaintiff; and
  3. Sufficient evidence to allow for a reasonable calculation of lost earning capacity.

Stated simply, the damage claim cannot be excessively speculative.  It must be supported by direct evidence that allows a jury to make reasonable inferences regarding your impaired capacity to earn.

Courts will consider a number of different factors in determining your lost future earning capacity.  These factors include, but are not necessarily limited, to:

  • The extent of the injury (and resulting impairment)
  • Whether the injury is permanent or temporary
  • Your age, education, and work history
  • Whether you are capable of finding alternative work that is more suitable, given your injury condition
  • Whether you can be a competitive worker in the labor marketplace
  • Your previous wages
  • Your wages earned after the injury
  • Your projected future wages
  • Whether you are employed in the same position that you occupied prior to the injury at-issue
  • And more

None of these factors are dispositive.  All relevant factors will be weighed carefully by the court in determining the actual loss of future earning capacity.

Suppose, for example, that you are injured in an accident, and your injury is severe enough to make it impossible for you to work.  You are 55 years old, however.  As such, the court will have to assess how much longer you would have been employed before retirement.  If you would have been employed until 65 years old, then the court may deem it reasonable to award you damages equivalent to 10 years of lost earning capacity.

How the Defendant May Attempt to Undermine Your Claim

Defendants may employ a number of strategies for undermining your legitimate lost earning capacity claim.

A defendant may argue that — based on your poor work history — you would not have secured “wage increases” over the course of your career, thus reducing your damage claim.  A defendant may also argue that you are perfectly capable — given your education level and injury — of securing an alternative career that would pay as much as your previous career.

Challenging the defendant’s assertions will require the assistance of a skilled attorney who has extensive experience litigating such claims and obtaining damages for loss of future earning capacity on behalf of injured clients.

Contact an Experienced Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney for Further Assistance

Here at Cross & Smith, our attorneys have spent decades representing a range of injured clients in litigation, working with them to obtain favorable verdicts and settlements on their behalf.

We are committed to the provision of client-oriented legal representation — from the beginning of the client engagement process, we keep the lines of communication open so that the strategic objectives of the client are kept at the forefront of litigation.

Call (205) 391-9557 or submit an online form today to speak with an experienced Tuscaloosa injury attorney here at Cross & Smith.  Consultation is free and confidential.

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