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How are Lost Wages Calculated after a Personal Injury in New York?

September 3, 2019 in

When personal injuries interfere with the ability to work and earn an income, victims have the right to claim lost wages in a personal injury lawsuit. In addition to the actual income lost from the time of the injury to the settlement or trial, damages for future lost wages and the loss of potential earning capacity can also be pursued. However, there are many variables that need to be considered when it comes to calculating a comprehensive lost wages claim:  

Actual Lost Wages

The first element of a loss of income claim is your actual lost wages from the time you’re hurt to the time you resolve your case. The amount is based on the earnings you would have made, had you been able to continue to work. It is calculated by multiplying the number of missed days by your average daily wage. 

This figure can include your hourly wages or salary, as well as bonuses, tips, and incentive pay. Benefits and any sick pay and/or vacation time used can also be incorporated. In order to prove the income lost, documentation will be needed, such as pay stubs, tax returns, or a written statement from your employer detailing what you were earning at the time of the accident. 

Future Lost Wages

In some cases, a settlement or verdict may be reached before you have returned to work or you may be incapable of doing so due to a permanent disability. In those instances, damages for future lost wages may be awarded. Using a procedure similar to how actual lost wages are calculated, financial documentation can be used to estimate future lost wages. However, testimony from an expert witness will also be required, to give a detailed assessment of the injuries and a timeline on your likelihood of reaching a full recovery.

Loss of Potential Earning Capacity

This type of damages may be relevant to your case if you are either unable to return to work or if your injuries reduce the amount of income you can now earn. The difference between the earnings that you will actually make compared to the earnings that could have been made is the figure you can claim. A variety of factors, such as the severity of the injury and the current job market, are considered when calculating a plaintiff’s (victim’s) loss of earning capacity. Additional factors can also include: 

  • Length of recovery.
  • Expected return to work date. 
  • Health prior to the injury. 
  • The number of years until retirement.
  • Prior earnings and if it was a fixed income or based on performance. 
  • Personal work ethic. 
  • Rate of advancement within the company and the likelihood of being promoted.
  • Company policies on raises, promotions, and other benefits.
  • How they were thought of by their superiors.  
  • Age of the plaintiff. 
  • General life expectancy, prior to the injury.  

Both expert and non-expert testimony may be used when proving this type of loss: 

  • Employer: past work history, performance, and opportunities for promotion. 
  • Expert Economist: how much the victim could have anticipated making, based on the salary trends in their line of work or field of study. 
  • Doctor: health before and after the injury, how the injuries affect or limit ability to work. 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Expert (if necessary): the amount and length of medical treatment needed, as well as an expected date for returning to work. 
  • Co-workers, Family, Friends: how active and motivated the victim was prior to the injury, as well as hobbies and life goals. 

The value of a lost wages claim is different in every case, since the underlying factors are contingent on a jury’s interpretation. Most claims for lost income are attached to a physical injury claim, in which case the pain and suffering element tends to be the integral part to determining the amount of compensation that will be awarded. 

We are Here to Help

Recovering full compensation for lost wages isn’t always an easy task. We can help you sort through the details and find out how much your claim is worth. Contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. and receive a free consultation with one of our talented New York City personal injury attorneys today.