When a medical mistake or negligence makes it impossible to return to work, it’s a scary situation for the affected person and family. For most people, the only way to recover that lost income is by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In a lawsuit, it’s the plaintiff’s burden to prove the amount of past lost wages and future loss of earning capacity.
The way we go about doing this for our clients is hiring an economist. The economist typically reviews about five years of the person’s tax returns and IRS W-2 forms. In addition, the economist needs to know the age, race, educational level, and occupation of the person and spouse.
Armed with this information, the economist consults U.S. government publications to determine the average wage and fringe benefits and how they would be expected to grow over the person’s work-life. Fringe benefits are often a major component of compensation and can account for 20% or more of the total. The federal government publishes a work-life table that uses the socioeconomic data I referenced above to project how long a person would be expected to work over a lifetime.
The economist then does a calculation of the present value of those numbers—in other words, the amount that could be safely invested today to supply the expected lost future income stream.
The economist’s report will contain two important numbers. First, the amount of past lost wages. Second, the present value of the amount of future lost wages up to the person’s work-life expectancy.
We are here to help
The Texas medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm know the ins and outs of this complex area of the law and are here to help.
Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800, for a free initial consultation.
Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.