What If I Cannot Return To Work After Being Involved In A Catastrophic Maryland Car Accident?
I should note at the outset that this article does not address entitlement to benefit such as social security or short-term or long-term disability insurance. Those alternative forms of compensation may, or may not be available. The focus of this article is the recovery of compensation, or money damages, from an at-fault person and/or their insurance company.
Anyone who has sustained a disabling injury as the result of a serious or significant Maryland car accident is entitled to collect both past lost wages and to be compensated for the loss of future earnings.
As attorney Eric T. Kirk will tell you, it does make some logical sense, unfortunately, that the injuries one would expect to see after a catastrophic car accident in Maryland are grave in both nature and effect. The likelihood or probability that someone would have or experience diminished earnings or a negative impact on earning potential is simply greater when dealing with a significant automobile crash. Maryland law compensates the victims of accidents by an award of money damages, which can either be obtained through a settlement with an insurance company in lieu of trial, or awarded by a jury after trial.
Past lost wages are a simple mathematical calculation of what the individual was earning, on average, prior to the accident, extrapolated over the amount of work they missed from the time of the accident through the time of settlement or judgment.
Calculating a loss of future wages, future earnings or future earning potential can be a more nuanced and complicated situation. In its simplest incarnation, a loss of future earnings claim would involve extrapolation of the average wages es an individual was earning prior to the injury-causing event, extrapolated over the course of that individual’s anticipated working lifetime. Here, there may be a resort to expert testimony regarding what that reasonably anticipated “economic life” is.
In connection with claims of the nature, there may be more sophisticated arguments involving a loss of employer-provided insurance, disability or pension benefits and the application of a “COLA” or cost of living increase to the average wages projected over time. Additionally, imagine a scenario where the injured individual reasonably anticipates that they will advance in their chosen career, both in terms of seniority and in terms of compensation. Here, the claim might be that the individual, in fairness, should be compensated on their reasonably foreseeable and expected future wages, rather than what they are earning immediately before the accident. This is a more refined argument and will entail the provision of expert testimony from, minimally, a doctor who can opine as to the extent of the disability and the restrictions placed upon the individual, or their inability to work in meaningful employment altogether. But what is also required as well is testimony from someone knowledgeable with wages, salaries, economic realities, the typical advancement of a career in a given industry, and the ability to cull through those known variables, and apply them to the facts at hand in a specific case.