Loss of Earnings/Diminished Earning Capacity

Missing work for an extended period can cause severe financial hardship for individuals and families. That is what happens to many people after a personal injury or accident. They cannot work for weeks or months while they recover from their injuries.

Some victims’ injuries prevent them from returning to work or earning the same wages as before their injury. The result could be a lifetime of lost earnings and diminished earning capacity.

Under Florida tort laws, injured victims can file personal injury claims seeking compensation for their loss of income. A person can seek reimbursement for all lost earnings through the settlement date. They can also receive compensation for their future lost wages and decreases in earning potential.

Proving Liability for Loss of Earnings and Diminished Earning Capacity in Florida

Before recovering damages for loss of income, you must prove that the other party is liable. 

Proving negligence and liability in a personal injury claim typically involves proving the following:

In some cases, strict liability, vicarious liability, or intentional torts might apply. Our legal team has the resources to investigate your claim to gather evidence to build a strong case for fault and liability. We will also work with you to document all lost income to maximize the amount you receive for your claim. 

Calculating Past and Future Lost Wages in a Florida Personal Injury Claim 

You must have documentation proving that you sustained a loss of income to demand reimbursement for lost wages. For example, your medical records might show that you sustained an injury that prevented you from working during your recovery. The physician’s notes must state that you could not return to work for a specific period.

Your past lost wages equal the amount of income you would have earned had you not been injured. A statement from your employer and past employment records will help establish the value of your past lost wages.

Future lost wages are more complicated to calculate. First, your physician must state that you sustained a permanent impairment or disability that prevents you from working. 

The insurance company might dispute your doctor’s medical opinion and require you to undergo an independent medical examination. In that case, we might retain medical specialists to provide additional evidence proving you cannot return to work.

Second, we must prove the amount of money you would have earned had you been able to work. 

Typically, that requires hiring a financial expert to estimate future lost wages based on factors such as:

  • Your age and overall health
  • The anticipated age of retirement
  • Your career, education, skills, and experience
  • The outlook for your career or job
  • Missed opportunities for pay increases and career development 
  • Your life expectancy
  • Expected rate of inflation

Expert testimony is essential in these cases to establish the value of future earnings. Then, we can demand compensation for that loss when we negotiate a settlement or argue the case at trial.

Proving Diminished Earning Capacity in a Florida Personal Injury Case 

Diminished earning capacity also relates to future loss of income. However, instead of being completely disabled, your impairment reduces the amount you can earn. In other words, you would have been able to earn more money if the at-fault party did not cause your injury.

Loss of earning capacity is the difference between what you would have earned and what you can earn, given the limitations of your impairment. Experts analyze factors like those listed above to determine the amount of loss of earning capacity. These types of claims rely heavily on expert testimony and opinions.

Insurance Companies Fight Loss of Earnings Claims 

The value of a loss of earnings claim could total millions of dollars if a person cannot return to work after an accident. Depending on the person’s age and life expectancy, a victim could incur lost wages for 20, 30, or 40 years. The amount of earnings over decades is substantial.

Therefore, insurance companies aggressively fight claims for loss of earning capacity and future lost wages. If your physician tells you that you might have a permanent impairment because of an accident, you need legal advice immediately.

Until you complete medical treatment, you cannot know the extent of your injuries and damages. For that reason, it might not be in your best interest to accept a settlement offer until you complete medical treatment and talk with a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer.

What Is the Deadline for Filing a Loss of Earnings Claim in Florida?

The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Florida is two years from the injury date. The deadline in Florida used to be four years until an update in the law on March 24, 2023. Therefore, Florida accidents occurring after that time must be legally acted upon within two years, not four.

However, there may be exceptions.

Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident. Loss of earnings claims can be complicated, and you do not want to run out of time to file your claim.

A St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Will Help You Calculate Your Lost Earnings and Diminished Earning Capacity

You deserve compensation for all damages caused by an accident or personal injury. A St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys will pursue all types of damages to maximize your recovery. Call our law office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney at (727) 933-0015