Have you or someone you love suffered an injury which has left you incapacitated to the point that you are unable to hold the same job that you had in the past? Has your ability to earn wages that you have been accustomed to been put in question due to an injury? If so, you may be entitled to compensation from the party responsible for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim. Generally, damages are sought in most civil cases. Damages refer to an award, issued by the Court, of money that you are seeking in order to compensate you for some legal wrong that was committed by the other party. Included in an award of damages are monies lost due to an injury causing you to remain out of work for a period of time. This is also known as “loss of wages.”
Diminished Earning Capacity in Maryland Personal Injury Claims
In Maryland, it is possible for the Plaintiff to recover for having a diminished earning capacity due to injury.
A diminished earning capacity refers to the loss of future earnings based upon a shortened life expectancy or salary reduction. However, merely claiming that you are unable to earn at the same rate as in the past due to the injury is not enough. Proof must be furnished to the Court for an award to be warranted.
Therefore, you must prove that you have a permanent injury which has had an adverse effect on your ability to be employed.
The best place to start when attempting to prove your diminished earning capacity claim is with the actual existence of your injury. In doing so, proof must be furnished which indicates that the injury is permanent in nature and that the permanent injury will have an impact on your ability to be employed. Simply providing evidence that your permanent injury has been sustained is not the same as providing evidence that your future earning capacity has been impaired. There must be some evidence from which the Court can reasonably infer that your ability to earn will likely be reduced in the future. Hence, in addition to proving the permanence of the injury, you must also establish some effect on future earning ability.
Having a medical professional furnish testimony showing proof of the injury's permanency; the future probability of pain causing disability; the reasonable probability of the future loss; would go a long way towards substantiating your claim. The medical professional can be the actual doctor that saw you for treatment as they would likely have documentation on the severity of the injury which would be useful for the Court to review.
After proving the existence of a permanent injury and the negative impact that the injury will have on your ability to earn, you will need to quantify the loss by making a determination of the amount of earnings which you will likely lose in the future as a result of the injury. This can be difficult since the future is unknown.
It would be simple to calculate out the present – you were earning $100,000 per year and were planning to retire in 20 years, meaning that the diminished earning capacity would have likely been $2,000,000. However, the real world is not that simple. It is possible that you would have earned a raise, maybe several raises, over the course of the 20 years of future employment. Maybe you would have made a career change and earned more money elsewhere. There is also inflation to account for. The more uncertainty surrounding your claim, the more doubt will come into play as to what a proper and fair award would be.
Having the expert testimony of an economist can be pivotal in helping you overcome your burden of proof. Generally, it is the job of the expert to determine what jobs are feasible for you to perform, and what type of earnings might be possible for those jobs. The expert will gather and evaluate information of several types including; determining what you are able and willing to do while gathering information on your functional capacity. In order to perform a particular job, you must possess various degrees of certain functional abilities. These include the both your physical abilities and psychological factors, such as motivation and interest.
Having the physical and mental ability to perform a particular job is necessary but not sufficient to consider that job part of your earning capacity. Skills, knowledge and experience are also a necessary element in determining what jobs you can actually perform.
Once the expert is able to establish the current landscape for your possible employment in the future, it will be easier to properly quantify your future financial losses due to the injury and the Court will be able to better establish a proper and fair award.
Establishing loss of earning capacity can sound like a complicated process, but an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the process and advise you of each step to take along the way. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the irresponsible or negligent behavior of another, please do not hesitate to call the Gilman & Bedigian team today for a free consultation.