Special Damages – Current and Future Lost Earnings
The definition for current and future lost earnings is generally understood to mean the total of your average weekly wages lost from the time of the accident until now, plus average weekly wages from now until you plan to return to work. If you can’t return to work in the immediate future, then there are complex factors and calculations to consider.
In this article of our series, we’ll discuss the key information associated with measuring the current and future lost earnings damage expenses incurred for a claim. The projection of your current and future lost earnings is one of the most complex areas of special damage valuations. There are several issues to consider before beginning to calculate a lost earnings damage assessment including:
• Your current medical condition, and if you will return to your occupation in the near future.
• If you will not return to work in the immediate future, what will be the level of your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and when will that level be medically and legally determined.
• The extent to which your injuries or disease will affect your ability to perform your occupation, desired occupation within your MMI, now and in the future.
Various medical, financial, and legal experts may be needed to understand and project your unique circumstances. Additionally, specialized software and similar circumstance benchmarking may be needed to prove the value of your claim. Some of the key activities to determine the value of your claim are:
• Calculating your current monetary income with average bonuses over the past several years. If you have had erratic income due to a layoff or general economic conditions, an average of your personal and/or occupational income statistics are important to consider.
• Computing the value of your benefits including payroll tax, holiday, vacation, health insurance, and retirement (pensions, 401k, 403b, etc.) contributions as a percentage of total income. For example, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that benefits averaged almost 32% for private industry workers.
• Understanding how your expected retirement and life rated ages will be considered for your claim.
If you or your advisors (attorney, accountant, insurance) have accurately determined your current and future lost earnings, then add the total amount to a planner like our What Is Your Claim Worth Solutions to be included with your other damages. If you are having difficulty or need assistance with this type of analysis and planning, please contact us for additional help.