April 9 2020

Lost Earning Capacity: How Do You Calculate Future Earnings?


When you have a personal injury case, you can request both lost wages and lost earning capacity . Although these both relate to the earnings you have lost due to your injury, they differ in scope.

Lost wages are related to the wages that you've already lost due to your injury, as you could not work. Your lost earning capacity is related to the future amount that you could have earned. Discover what you should know about calculating lost earning capacity.

What Goes Into Your Lost Earning Capacity?

Your lost earning capacity is a reasonable amount that you could have been expected to make had you not experienced your injury. This earning capacity includes:

  • The amount of money you had presently been making
  • Whether you would normally be expected to get a raise or see bonuses
  • How long you would be expected to continue working if you had not been injured
  • Whether your cost of living could increase (which, in turn, would likely cause you to try to make more)
  • General inflation, which would cost salaries to rise regardless of your own personal position


    As you can see, much of this is in a gray area and is speculative, such as whether you would have gotten raises. Industry standards may come in play here, as you will be compared to others within your field.

    In addition to this, your work history and your level of education will also be considered. It's possible, for instance, that you weren't presently working within your field. As an example, a waiter who is working on becoming a doctor would also have this factored in, but they wouldn't have the same earning potential as someone who had already become a doctor.

    How Can You Prove Your Earning Potential?

    Due to the gray area mentioned above, you will often be examined regarding whether the earning potential that you have stated is correct. You may be asked what your future career goals were, whether you believe you would have gotten increases in your salary, and whether you would have stayed in the same field.

    You may need to contest the amount of earning potential that is decided on with the court, especially if you were in the middle of a career transition or if you just feel you have earning potential beyond what they have calculated.

    This may become especially complex if your injury reduces your ability to work. In this situation, you and your lawyer must work to quantify the difference between the amount you are able to make now and the amount that you would be able to make, barring your injury.

    Who Can Help You Prove Your Lost Earning Capacity?

    Luckily, you aren't alone when trying to prove lost earning capacity. A number of experts are available that you and your attorney can ask to speak on your behalf. These are experts who are aware of your personal experience and education and would be able to speak to how much money you would be able to make unimpeded in your field.

    Economists, medical experts, and vocational experts will all be able to speak professionally about how your injury has impacted your future earnings.

    It's important that you are able to recover your expenses for your injury, ranging from your lost wages to your lost earning capacity. If you are not able to get reimbursement for all of your costs, you may not have the funds in the future to take care of your own medical and living expenses.

    For more information about both calculating and recovering your future earnings following an injury, contact Wolfe, Jones, Wolfe, Hancock, Daniel & South, L.L.C.

    Lost Earning Capacity: How Do You Calculate Future Earnings?