H McPartland & Sons Solicitors offer advice and information in dealing with the unexpected loss of earning as a result of an accident

Unexpected accidents and dealing with loss of earnings

If you have been injured and it was someone else’s fault, you may be able to claim for compensation. These claims normally go beyond general damage (the financial compensation awarded for the pain and suffering resulting from the injury.) Injured parties may also be able to claim for their financial losses. These are called special damages and one such type of special damages is loss of earnings.

Loss of earnings

If you can’t work because of the injury sustained, then you’ll naturally be out of pocket. However, this financial loss can be recovered as part of your claim. The value of personal injury claims is often made up of losses that are a direct result of the injury, rather than from the actual injury itself. Claims for lost earnings are very frequent and are often one of the largest components of a compensation claim. As with any loss, the onus is on the injured victim (the claimant) to prove the level of earnings that they are looking to reclaim.

Past loss of earnings

The easiest way of calculating and proving past loss of earnings will be to look at the claimant’s wages during the three months prior to the accident and calculate the average. The claim will be for lost ‘net’ earnings, i.e. after tax and national insurance contributions have been deducted. The amounts claimed can be calculated using figures from wage slips or alternatively, the claimant’s bank statements, which show when and how much they were paid. However, there may be situations where taking the average of three months salary is not applicable. For example, the figures may be altered by holidays, overtime work, seasonal work or bonus payments and therefore obtaining evidence of earnings over a longer period, such as 6 months or even a few years, would be a more sensible and realistic option.

Future loss of earnings

In more serious personal injury cases, the claimant may also be unable to work in the same capacity as before, if at all. They will therefore have a right to claim for future loss of earnings. Medical evidence from the relevant specialist experts will assess the impact of the claimant’s injury on their future ability to work and determine how long recovery will take. However, there are several complexities involved here. Calculating future loss of earnings is not as straightforward as multiplying annual net wage by the number of years until recovery is anticipated or until retirement age because, if the claimant receives all their future earnings in one lump sum now and if that money is then invested, it will end up being worth more many years down the line. To avoid this over-compensation, statistical tables are used to adjust the level of compensation downwards.

Also, any evidence of any potential future promotions or pay increases will need to be obtained from the claimant’s employer or colleagues and factored into the calculations. And, where the claimant can continue earning, but not to the same extent, then their remaining earning capacity needs to be factored in.

Complex, high value personal injury claims can potentially last for a number of years before a final settlement or judgment is determined.

Bonuses and overtime

Evidence should also be obtained from the claimant and their employer to show any additional benefits that the claimant received, or would have received, prior to the accident. If you miss out on overtime or a bonus that you could reasonably be expected to receive, then the value of these can be included in the claim. Other examples may include: company cars, mobiles and health insurance.

Other types of claim

In addition to future loss of earnings, there are other work-related claims that the claimant may be entitled make. Where the claimant is forced to retire earlier than expected due to their injuries, loss of pension can also be claimed. This is because the claimant is unable to work, and as a result, contributions will not have been made towards their pension, thus making their pension worth less on retirement. This loss will need to be calculated and applied.

Loss of earnings, as a result of unexpected accidents, can be a complex matter and can be difficult to establish. Clearly, the best evidence of future performance will always be past performance and cooperation between client and solicitor is vital in ensuring that all the necessary evidence is obtained.

H McPartland & Sons’ team of experienced and highly skilled solicitors can provide you with the legal advice needed to make your claim. Contact us today at our Lurgan or Lisburn Office to discuss your case confidentially, promptly and efficiently.