Last Update: 01/07/16
In Florida, most everyone knows that when you’re hurt due to the negligence of another the law allows you to seek compensation from that person for all sorts of things – like medical expenses, for example.
What some of us may not be aware of, however, is for the ability to be compensated for future lost wages or salary – especially where the injured party has no job or is not working at the time of the accident or crash.
How and Why? Under Florida law, injury victims can be awarded damages for “lost future earning capacity” which is a dollar amount designed to compensate the inured person for their future lost capacity to earn income. It is not a calculation of actual wages or salary figures, so it doesn’t matter that you are unemployed, a student, retired, or a stay at home mom or caretaker at the time of the accident. See Loftin v. Wilson.
Lost Earning Capacity is calculated based on a projected amount that is determined to be reasonable through negotiations or by a trier of facts. For example, if your case goes to a jury, evidence is presented to the jury, by your lawyer, for their determination of what is a reasonable amount to award for lost or diminished ability to work. Thus, in these situations, it’s important to have an experienced advocate on your side with skills in making these arguments to juries.
Limitations and Hurdles For Future Lost Earnings Claims
Two important conditions to meet before you can recover these damages is that you are only able to receive Lost Earnings in the Future IF your injury is a permanent one, and IF the injury has altered your ability to make a living or earn a wage.
Additionally, some people refer to these claims as awards for the “impairment of earning power,” – and they are estimates. This money is calculated to represent the injured person’s loss of their potential to make a certain income — even if they haven’t achieved that potential and even If they weren’t working at the time of the accident – and the calculation is made by estimating your ability to earn a living (your potential to make money) before the injury as compared to afterwards. You are being awarded an amount of money designed to provide justice for what you are estimated to lose in the future because of a permanent injury from the accident.
What Should You Do?
Since these claims are calculated based upon forecasts and projections, it helps an injury victim to have an expert on their side to present and counter the arguments of keeping this damage amount low, where the insurance company’s experts will point to all sorts of figures and charts to justify a low-ball offer.
It’s their job to keep claims as low as possible; however, Lost Earning Capacity awards can be very high in some cases. For example, a young football player with the potential to go pro is in an accident and loses the ability to run, walk, or move — in that situation there could be a large award, because the dollar amount is designed to cover his entire lifetime earnings, including a potential pro football career where he could have made millions.
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident and have been out of work, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim, including for lost wages, to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.