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Proving Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity in a Personal Injury Case

Posted in Personal Injury on June 29, 2021

One of the many ways an accident can interfere with your life is by taking you out of work. Your injury may temporarily make you unable to perform the necessary tasks of your job, or you might have suffered a disability that will take you out of work for the foreseeable future. Either way, you could be eligible for financial compensation for your losses of income – past, present and future.

What Are Lost Wages?

Lost wages during a personal injury claim specifically refer to the past or present losses of income you are experiencing due to the inability to go to work. Lost wages can cover missed shifts at work, bonuses, special projects, commission, tips, promotions, vacation time, medical leave, retirement benefits and other employment benefits lost while you are in the hospital or recuperating. If you had to miss work for a surgery, physical therapy or rehabilitation, for example, this financial loss would be categorized as lost wages.
Lost wages can also refer to the difference between what you used to make and what you are able to make now while you heal from an injury. If you cannot return to your old job until you recover, but your employer finds you a different job that is part-time or has you working in a lesser capacity, you could be eligible for the difference between your old paychecks and what you make now.

What Is Loss of Earning Capacity?

Loss of earning capacity, on the other hand, refers to the future foreseeable losses of income that you will suffer due to a long-term or permanent injury. It describes the loss of your ability to earn a living wage in the future – either partially or entirely – due to your injury or disability.
If you suffered a reduced ability to earn a living or cannot earn a living at all, you are eligible for this type of damage award. For example, if you suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury that puts you out of work for the rest of your life, you could seek financial compensation for the income and employment benefits that you are not able to earn in the future.
While the amount of financial compensation you can receive for lost wages is calculated based on your exact income and benefits lost, loss of earning capacity is predicted based on factors such as the severity of your injury, how long it will take you out of work, your age, your overall health and your income level. The amount may also be adjusted for inflation.

How to Prove Both Types of Losses

As the plaintiff in a personal injury claim in Texas, it is your responsibility to prove lost wages and lost capacity to earn before you can recover financial compensation for these damages. You or your personal injury lawyer have the burden to prove your losses based on a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to establish your losses as more likely to be true than not true.
Evidence that you may be able to use to prove past and future losses of income include:

  • Pay stubs
  • Employment documents
  • Benefits information
  • Letter from your employer
  • Tax documents
  • Business documents
  • Customer invoices
  • Letter from your doctor about your future disability
  • Medical records
  • Photographs and videos
  • Testimony from experts

In general, it is more difficult to prove loss of earning capacity than lost wages. While lost wages refer to income already lost when a lawsuit is filed, loss of earning capacity refers to losses that will occur after the lawsuit is filed. Proving this type of financial loss requires predicting what you likely would have made had the accident not occurred. An experienced attorney can help you establish lost wages and lost capacity to earn during your injury claim in Dallas.