Car accident lost wages involves several types of automobile collision settlement money. Injured drivers or passengers are entitled to past wage loss and future loss of earnings due to the accident. The courts have described it as lost time, lost wages, or loss of earnings. Future lost wages is often called loss of earning capacity.
Although often called lost wages, this element of damages is broader than simply lost wages. Carlson v. Drews of Hales Corners, Inc., 48 Wis. 2d 408 (1970), and calling it lost wages in a jury instruction in a car accident case is always incorrect. The proper question for the jury is whether the accident caused a loss of earning capacity. See Wisconsin Jury Instruction Civil 1760 and 1762 . Loss of earning capacity is the difference between the injured person’s capacity to earn before and after an accident. Balz v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., 2006 WI App 131 “[E]arning capacity is not solely a snapshot of the wages earned at a particular point in a person’s working life. Earning capacity involves ‘comparing what the injured party was capable of earning before and after the time of injury.”
To recover loss of earning capacity settlement money, we must prove the loss of earning capacity by the more probable than not burden of proof. Schulz v. St. Mary’s Hosp., 81 Wis. 2d 638 (1978). Also, we have to prove the accident caused the injuries causing the diminished capacity to earn. Bradford v. Milwaukee & Suburban Transp. Co., 25 Wis. 2d 161 (1964).
In simplest terms, an accurate measure of loss of earning capacity may be the difference between earnings before and after injury, ie. lost wages. But this is not always the case as lost earning capacity, not lost earnings, is the test. There may be an award for past loss of earning capacity despite the fact that the injured person earned the same after the accident, if he could have earned more. See Sampson v. Laskin, 66 Wis. 2d 318 (1975). A court will not deny an award for lost earning capacity because the injured person was unemployed at the time of injury if the accident prevented him from working. However, the persuasive value of such a claim may not be strong. Evidence of availability to work, efforts at employment, employment history and other factors all come into play in proving up a case of car accident wage loss or loss of earning capacity.
At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our attorneys and paralegals collection documentation from injured car accident drivers and passengers in order to recover settlement money for lost wages or time missed from work. Believe in better.