Types of Personal Injury Damages: Recovering for Lost Earning Capacity Under Massachusetts Law.

When pursuing a Massachusetts personal injury claim, you should immediately retain the services of an expert personal injury attorney. For there are many different types of damages that are potentially recoverable, including money for medical bills, scarring and disfigurement, and pain and suffering. By hiring a skilled Boston personal injury lawyer, you will maximize these damages. Another type of damages that may be recoverable, depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, is known as “lost earning capacity,” which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “lost wages”.

Lost earning capacity damages are different from lost wages, and should not be confused with simply recovering the wages that you would have earned had you been able to work. While they are distinguishable, lost wages are part of the evidence used to establish lost earning capacity. For instance, if you earned $20 an hour, worked 40 hours per week, and you were out of work for a month because of your injuries, you could calculate the exact dollar amount that you were unable to earn during that month, namely your lost wages. But this is not the same thing as lost earning capacity damages. Regarding the latter, a different type of calculation is necessary. You need to measure the decrease in your ability to earn wages or a salary as a result of your injuries caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct. If your personal injuries are very severe, and you are a high wage earner, this could result in a substantial amount of money being awarded for lost earning capacity damages.

The first step in proving your lost earning capacity is to gather all of the evidence that will back up your claim. This includes your earning documentation from prior jobs, and evidence of your education and any other vocational training. This evidence will be necessary to demonstrate to a jury or a judge the extent of your injuries and the extent that these injuries have impaired your ability to earn wages.

In addition to lost earning capacity that has already taken place with respect to your past inability to work, you may also be able to recover for future lost earning capacity damages. This element of damages would arise from an injury or condition that decreases your earning ability in the future. Another important factor regarding your case would thus be whether your injury or condition is so severe that it will last into the future, impair your ability to perform future work or perhaps prevent you from ever working again. Under such circumstances, damages could be as high as in the seven figures. In fact, it is not unusual for our lawyers to present evidence backing up a claim for lost earning capacity damages in excess of $1,000,000.

Calculations of future lost earning capacity are determined, to a significant extent, by the amount of money you were earning at the time of the accident. However, you do not need to be employed to make a claim for future lost earning capacity. This is because your ability to earn an income may still be impaired because of your injuries, despite the fact that you were not then working. But if your last employment was long ago, then a jury may need to use the last amount of wages you earned in subtracting from your lost earning capacity an appropriate amount for the time that you would not have been working since the accident. That is because, in this scenario, the other party’s negligence and your injuries did not cause you to lose any earning capacity at the time you were unemployed.

Finally, if you were self-employed at the time you suffered your injuries, you may also file a claim for lost earning capacity damages. But, just as with an unemployed claimant, it is more tricky trying to figure out what the baseline amount of your earning capacity is. These determinations also depend on the occupation that the injured party performs. A business owner, who runs an establishment that does not rely upon his presence to earn revenue, may not make a claim for lost earning capacity damages. This includes a restaurant owner who manages a restaurant, but has staff that cooks, waits tables and is capable of performing all of the restaurant’s daily operations. However, one whose presence is essential to bring in revenue, such as the only doctor in a private practice, may collect lost earning capacity damages even if his entire staff shows up to work. This is because patients visit his office for his unique services. Thus, his or her losses are easier to calculate.

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