Proving loss of future income | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

North Carolina injury law allows victims to pursue damages for the loss of income they suffer if they are unable to work during while they recover from injuries. When the injuries are so severe that they leave the victim unable to do the work they did prior to the accident or unable to work at all, the law also allows the victim to obtain damages for the loss of future income.

In order to succeed in future income recovery, the victim’s accident attorney must prove by a preponderance of the evidence if the lawsuit goes to trial. If the parties are able to settle before litigation, the financial loss will be part of the final settlement figure agreed upon.  




Proving past lost income – the income the victim lost from the time they were injured until the time the case is resolved – is fairly easy to prove. The victim’s attorney will use documentation from the employer, such as past pay stubs and statements from the company, to prove what the victim’s income was. That figure is then multiplied by the number of days the victim was absent from work.

Proving future income is harder because the victim often has some degree of recovery over time which could allow them to eventually return to work, either at a part-time basis or doing a different profession. So, the job of the attorney is to not so much prove loss of future income, but loss of future earning capacity if the victim had not been injured and had kept working in their current profession until the age of retirement.

Consider the following scenarios:

The victim is unable to currently work at all, however, there is a question as to how long this condition will be.

A victim suffers serious injuries that require long-term recovery could fall into this category. For example, a motorcycle accident victim suffers multiple injuries, requiring multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation. They will eventually be able to return to work, but it will be an extended period of time. An attorney will use medical experts to help establish how long that time will be and whether or not they will regain full recovery or if they will have limitations that could impede their job duties.

The victim is physically able to return to work, but they have suffered emotional injuries that leave them unable to work.

Not all accident injuries are physical. Using the same motorcycle accident victim as the above example, one of the injuries they suffered was a head injury. Although they have physically recovered from their injuries, the head injury has left them with traumatic emotional injuries that prevent them from performing their current job duties. An accident attorney would call on medical experts, such as a psychiatrist or neuropsychologist to establish the type and extent of the injury and how long they think the victim will be disabled.

The victim can never return to their old job but could possibly perform some other type of work.

In these cases, the victim will never recover enough to do the job they had prior to the accident. If the motorcycle accident victim was a carpenter but has now been left paralyzed, they will not be able to go back to their prior job, however, they may be able to work at another profession, depending on the extent of their injuries.

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In addition to the evidence proving the victim’s condition, evidence will also have to show the number of years the victim would have expected to continue working, as well as what type of earning increases they would have received over the years in promotions and raises had they not been injured.

A North Carolina personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has extensive experience in calculating these type of cases and can help you get the financial compensation you are entitled to if you have been injured. Call our office today for a free and confidential case evaluation.