Getting lost wages in an injury case is more difficult than getting medical care because the court applies a “proven with specificity” standard and prevents speculation as to what they might have been. This presents massive problems for people that have a cash income because if they are not paying taxes, then to claim it is tax fraud. Additionally, unless it is rock solid that income will be down, the courts will just throw it out.
In April 2019, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case discussing the plaintiff’s claim for future lost wages. Ultimately, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, finding the evidence of any decrease in future income to be too speculative.
According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was sitting in her car, stopped at a red light, when an employee who worked for the defendant rear-ended her. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident. Specifically, the plaintiff suffered “a whiplash-type injury to her cervical spine, wrist swelling, and facial bruising with a minor laceration.” Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that her previous back injuries were exacerbated.
Prior to the accident, the plaintiff was a cashier at Wal-Mart. Part of the plaintiff’s job responsibilities required that she be able to stand for long periods, although cashiers are occasionally permitted to sit on a stool. After the accident, the plaintiff’s injuries necessitated that she sit on a stool more often.
When the plaintiff went back to work, she worked fewer hours; however, she was still considered “full time” and was paid a higher hourly rate. The plaintiff claimed that the reduction in her hours was due to her physical limitations that were caused by the accident. However, the defendant presented evidence showing a nationwide decrease in the hours of Wal-Mart employees that accompanied the increased hourly rate. Additionally, Wal-Mart never told the plaintiff that the reduction in her hours had anything to do with her physical limitations.
The plaintiff responded by arguing that her physical limitations were permanent and would prevent her from working in the same manner as before the accident. She also claimed that it would not be possible for her to work while recovering from any future medical procedures that would be required.
The court determined the plaintiff’s evidence of loss of future wages was too speculative to support an award, and it dismissed the claim before submitting it to the jury. The plaintiff was awarded a total of $330,000, and she appealed several issues, including the denial of her claim for future lost wages.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court noted that the plaintiff was working full-time when she went back to work. Additionally, the court pointed out that the evidence was contested regarding whether the plaintiff would need additional surgeries in the future. The court explained that a plaintiff must be able to establish the amount of loss with “reasonable certainty.”
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the injuries you have sustained. There are several types of damages that you may be able to obtain, including compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the accident. Attorney Christopher M. Simon is a dedicated personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling car accident cases. To learn more about how Attorney Simon can help you pursue compensation for your injuries, call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation today.