Whether you were hurt in a car accident, workplace accident, or slip and fall, your ability to earn a living could be seriously hindered. Texas allows accident victims to seek compensation for the loss or reduction of their earning capacity. This article will detail these critical forms of damages so that you can pursue them in the event of an accident.
Types of Damages in Texas Personal Injury Cases
The primary classification of damages in Texas personal injury cases are:
Economic damages are those losses that can be quantified into a dollar amount. Texas law defines these damages as “compensatory damages intended to compensate a claimant for actual economic or pecuniary loss.”
Depending on your circumstances, economic damages may include:
- Medical bills for your past, present, and future care and treatment stemming from the accident
- Lost wages and lost benefits for the hours you missed from work and the employment benefits you used while you were recovering
- Future lost wages for those earnings you will not be able to make due to your injuries
- Property damages for the cost to repair or replace your damaged personal property
You can also recover compensation for out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury, such as tolls and mileage for your travel to visit medical professionals.
The Texas Trial Lawyers Association explains that non-economic damages compensate for injuries and losses that are not easily quantified by a dollar amount, such as:
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional distress or anguish
- Loss of fertility or sexual function
An experienced personal injury lawyer can discuss this aspect of your damages claim and what your claim may be worth.
Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, are awarded to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff. Exemplary damages are usually awarded in cases that involve conduct that was:
- Grossly negligent
An experienced personal injury lawyer can also explain whether exemplary damages may be awarded in your case.
What Is Loss of Earnings?
Texas law describes “future loss of earnings” as “a pecuniary loss incurred after the date of the judgment.” This includes damages for the loss of:
- Earning capacity
While loss of earnings is a form of economic damages, it is not always easy to evaluate these losses.
How To Quantify Loss of Earnings or Diminished Earning Capacity
Loss of earnings or diminished earning capacity is calculated as the difference between the amount of earnings you would have made during your life had you not been injured and the amount of earnings you are now projected to earn with your injuries.
Here are a few examples of how your lost earnings may be evaluated:
Example 1: You were injured in a car accident and suffered a debilitating injury that left you completely paralyzed. You are no longer physically able to work. Your diminished earning capacity claim would seek compensation for the salary you would have received for the remainder of your working years.
Example 2: You hurt your back when you slipped and fell. Your job requires you to sit for most of the work day. You can only work four hours a day now before you start feeling unendurable pain. You could seek compensation for the difference between your earnings of working eight hours a day versus four hours a day.
Example 3: You suffered a serious injury caused by another person’s negligence. You decided to retire early, so you are no longer eligible for the pension that you were only two years away from receiving. You might seek compensation for your lost pension and two years of lost earnings.
Example 4: You suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident. You could no longer perform your job that involved a lot of concentration and mental power. You started a new job in a less profitable occupation. You could seek compensation for your reduced earnings.
It is important that you are able to prove how much you would have earned. A vocational expert witness may calculate your earning capacity before and after the accident by considering factors such as:
- Your age
- Your overall health
- Your occupation
- Your employment history
- Your job skills
- Your history of promotions
- Your education
An experienced personal injury lawyer will often have connections to such experts to help support your claim.
How To Prove Diminished Earning Capacity
To recover maximum compensation for your loss of earnings claim, you will need to present evidence of your diminished earning capacity. This evidence may include:
- Employment stubs
- Letter from your employer
- Tax returns
- Employment benefits statement
- Testimony from a vocational expert
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help determine the potential value of your claim and help you recover compensation.