The Truth about Income Loss and Personal Injury Cases
It’s obviously upsetting to be involved in any type of accident. Property damage may represent an inconvenience. However, personal injury means much more. Second on the list from healing is almost always income loss. Is it a temporary situation? Or, are your future earnings also at risk?
New Jersey law recognizes uncompensated loss of income as an economic loss. This is defined in NJSA 39:6A-2(k). Income is further expressed in the statute to mean “salary, wages, tips, commissions, fees and other earnings derived from work or employment.”
We note that this section of the law specifically deals with car crashes. This does not suggest that other accident victims are not entitled to compensation for income loss suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Loss of Earnings
You may be concerned about recovering monetary damages for loss of earnings and even future earnings capacity. After all, it’s certainly not your fault that you were out of work due to your injuries. Or, needed to take time off for medical treatment. In order to make a claim for lost wages as part of your accident case, you should be prepared to produce the following:
- Dates that you lost time from work as a result of your injuries
- Notes from a medical provider ordering your absence
- Proof from your employer that you were not on the job
- Documentation concerning your earnings
- Information regarding any use of sick time or vacation days
If you are a salaried or hourly employee, it’s obviously easier to prove your earnings loss. If you received disability benefits from any source, you might be asked to supply this information as well. It’s a good idea to be a good record keeper from the beginning of your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will work on providing the necessary materials to the insurance company or their attorney.
Unfortunately, many employees use sick days or vacation time to avoid income loss. These may be recoverable under the theory that you would not have used the time had it not been for the accident. Also, some employers reimburse their staff for unused sick or vacation days. These may be claimed as damages in a personal injury case.
Those who have their own businesses should speak with their attorney regarding loss of income. In some cases, it may be necessary to retain an economic expert to document losses suffered by self-employed individuals.
Loss of Future Earnings Capacity
A claim for lost wages is relatively straightforward. But, what happens when your injuries prohibit you from returning to the same type of employment? Or, possibly going back to any kind of job?
We’ll give you an example. A highly skilled surgeon suffers a devastating injury to his dominant hand. Unfortunately, the damage is so bad that he will not be able to return to the operating room. Although the doctor is not totally disabled, his future earnings will be diminished. More than likely, expert opinion will be necessary to document the loss.
Expert opinion for loss of future earnings may come from a number of sources. For some, it may mean meeting with a vocational expert. Economic experts also assist personal injury attorneys in placing a number as far as monetary damages.
At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo, we have helped many accident victims. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we would like to assist you. We are only paid if we recover money on your behalf. Contact us to discuss your claim.