Involvement in a serious automobile accident can be a frightening and life-changing event. The first and most immediate concern is the health of all of the parties involved in the accident. Depending on the severity of the injuries, emergency medical treatment and hospitalization may be required. Healing can be slow and long-term medical care may be necessary. Rehabilitative care and a variety of forms of therapy could be required.
Personal injuries arising from an automobile accident can also initiate a chain reaction that places immense financial and economic stress on a family. We all know that hospital bills, ambulance expenses, doctor bills, costs of medication, and other medically related costs can be enormous.
But suffering a debilitating injury can also cause harm by limiting the injured party’s ability to work and earn income. Sometimes, the loss is temporary and the person who is injured will eventually return to work. Other times, the injuries limit the type of job or number of hours that the person can work.
In this article, we will discuss how some of these types of damages can be proved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Importance of Proving Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity
Oregon law permits recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 31.710 explains that economic damages are “objectively verifiable monetary losses.” For example, treatment in a doctor’s office, which results in a bill, meets this definition.
Additionally, the statute specifically identifies “loss of income and past and future impairment of earning capacity” as economic damages. Thus, if proven, these damages are recoverable in an Oregon personal injury lawsuit.
Proving Lost Wages
Whether you are attempting to settle your case with an insurance company or requesting a jury to award damages at trial, proof of lost wages will be essential.
In some instances, proving your loss is straightforward. For example, an hourly employee could use past pay stubs, W-2s, and tax returns to show income. Salaried employees can similarly use tax documents, employment agreements and other documentation. Sometimes, issues arise over claims for overtime and bonus payments. An effective strategy is to show a history of earning these extra payments to argue that they would have continued in the present and future.
For self-employed workers and business owners, the task can be more complicated. These people have both income and expenses, as well as income that can vary seasonally and can be affected by the economy. These and other variables make it possible for both parties to make arguments as to the amount of income that has truly been lost. Sometimes, accountants and other valuation experts are needed.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity results when a person, either temporarily or permanently, cannot earn as much money as they could previously. For example, a construction worker with a serious back injury may not be capable of lifting heavy items as required by the former job. Similarly, a surgeon who damages his hand may not be able to perform surgery any longer.
These types of losses can be much more complicated to litigate. Often, medical experts are needed to discuss the medical or physical limitations of the injured person. Other experts, such as accountants, statisticians, or actuaries may be needed to calculate the amount of lost earnings.
Call with Questions
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you are entitled to recover all of your damages, including lost wages and loss of earning capacity. The attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience proving these types of damages and have done so all across Oregon. We know you have questions, and we will be glad to answer them in a free consultation. Please call us. We are here to help you hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions. After all, that is the only way to make society safer for all of us.