Wage loss can make up a substantial portion of a personal injury claim if the injuries are so severe that they would limit a person’s ability to work. So unemployment can have a significant effect on your case. However, being unemployed does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to compensation for the wages which could have been earned, but for the injuries suffered.
How Receiving Unemployment Benefits Affects a Personal Injury Claim
If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits, this will likely reduce the value of your personal injury claim. You cannot argue that your injuries have caused immediate wage loss if you were not working at the time of the injury causing accident. However, if your injuries have affected your future earning potential, this can and should be taken into consideration when negotiating a settlement.
Examples of possible car accident injuries that might affect your ability to find future employment include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Nerve damage
- Visual impairment
- Hearing loss
- Internal organ damage
In the situation where you were not employed at the time of the collision, but you were looking to return to the workforce, your attorney will use expert testimony to establish how your injuries have limited your ability to find suitable work. Testimony will focus on the nature of your injuries as well as your past work history, education, experience, and the conditions of the local labor market.
In any personal injury claim involving unemployment, the length of time in which you have been out of work will play an important role. If you have only been unemployed for a short time, and that unemployment event was not of your choosing, such as a layoff, it will be easier to make the link your injuries to how they have negatively affected your future job prospects. However, if you have been unemployed for six months or longer, the defense may argue that other factors are playing a more important role in your inability to find suitable work. These challenges are to be evaluated in assessing the value of any personal injury claim.
Individuals Who Are Not in the Labor Force
If you were unemployed, but not receiving unemployment benefits or actively looking for work, you may be classified as being out of the labor force. In this case, you are not entitled to lost wages or compensation for lost earning potential because your injuries are not the reason for your lack of employment. For example, someone who has been retired and drawing a pension for the past decade would not have lost wages or lost future earning potential due to injuries. The settlement value would be based solely on medical expenses, pain and suffering and possibly other damages.
Special Concerns for Stay at Home Parents or Caregivers
If you are currently at a stay at home parent, your lost wages can be calculated based on the economic value of the household services you provide. This includes:
- Caring for young children
- Transporting children to and from school or other extracurricular activities
- Cooking meals
- Grocery shopping
- Cleaning and performing general household maintenance
- Paying bills and managing the family finances
If you have had to hire a housekeeper or nanny due to your injuries, this cost can be included in your damages. If your spouse has been forced to cut back on his work hours due to increased responsibilities at home, this can also be taken into account.
Similar considerations would apply if you are the full-time caretaker for an elderly parent or a disabled spouse.
Special Concerns for Self-Employed Individuals
If you were working as a freelancer, independent contractor, or sole proprietor at the time of your accident, your claim for lost wages is typically based on your previous earnings. However, if your business venture is relatively new, you will need to provide an alternative way to document lost earnings or loss of future earnings. This might include copies of invoices, contracts, correspondence, and bank statements. Expert testimony can also be used to assess the value of your business and lost future opportunities that have occurred due to your injuries.
How Inland Empire Law Group Can Help
Car accident injuries can result in a significant financial burden. When your injuries are caused by another party's negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner to advocate for your right to compensation. Calculating loss of earnings and its correlation to the injuries caused by the negligence of another, requires the skill of competent legal counsel.
The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is dedicated to helping Southern California residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others receive the personal injury compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.