Can I Recover Future Lost Income After an Injury in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can recover damages for “future lost income” after sustaining a personal injury in Pennsylvania. However, your legal team will need to do some extra work to prove that you are eligible to collect for future wage loss and to maximize how much you receive.
What is future lost income in a personal injury lawsuit?
Often, plaintiffs are still suffering the adverse effects of their accident injuries when they file a lawsuit. They have suffered tangible medical losses, but are likely to continue to amass medical bills in the near future. Therefore, Pennsylvania allows plaintiffs the ability to claim “future lost income” – which refers to the amount of money lost in income and benefits while recovering from the current injuries.
You may also be eligible for “loss of earning capacity” compensation if you are able to return to work, but cannot earn the same income as before the accident. You may have to reduce the number of hours you work, or you may utilize more sick days. If you cannot perform the basic duties of your current job, you may have to change position or employer, resulting in a pay downgrade.
What do you need to recover future lost income?
In order to claim future lost income as part of your lawsuit, you’ll need to show:
- Proof of taxable income before the accident – If you did not have any income prior to the accident, it will be difficult to make a case for loss of future earnings. One exception would be for students working toward their degree. It is difficult to prove how much you earned working “under the table” on a side job. The courts generally only consider “taxable income” found on W2 and 1099 forms.
- Proof of work-inhibiting injury – You must have suffered a physical and/or mental injury as a result of the accident. This can be documented by a form filled out by your doctor, as well as through your doctor’s testimony. Your doctor may testify that you will have significant physical restrictions for the near future or that you are permanently disabled. Diagnostic images can be helpful in proving the extent of the injury. Pain diaries and journals may be a form of evidence used in court to show how injury disrupts your daily life — and, particularly, your ability to work.
Qualifying injuries must be permanent in nature. Examples include:
- The loss of a finger or several toes
- Lasting facial disfigurement
- Severe burns to the upper extremities and torso
- Soft tissue injuries to the cervical and lumbar spine that can flare up with excess activity
- Traumatic cervical syndrome, which impedes the ability to bend and lift
- Chronic cervical sprain, which exacerbates age-related degeneration
- The functional loss of an organ
How is future income calculated?
Many factors are used to determine the value of a claim for future lost wages or reduced earning capacity:
- Your current age and life expectancy
- The mental, physical, and emotional impairments of the injuries sustained
- Employment, promotion, and earning history
- Jobs skills and educational background
A Pittsburgh personal injury attorney will lean on the testimony of a vocational expert or forensic economist who specializes in these types of determinations. While consulting with experts adds to the complexity and cost of pursuing “future lost income,” expert testimony is absolutely necessary to support the claim. Sometimes coworkers or employers are brought in to substantiate the claim as well. You may be required to complete a “functional capacity evaluation” to determine what your physical abilities are in terms of lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, squatting, and climbing over a certain period of time.
If you have more questions about adding future lost income compensation to your personal injury lawsuit, contact a Pennsylvania accident attorney from Chaffin Luhana. It costs nothing upfront or out-of-pocket to consult with a lawyer or pursue your claim. Our experienced attorneys have recovered over $1 billion on behalf of personal injury clients like you, including compensation for permanent disability, future lost income, and diminished earning capacity.