If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you undoubtedly have a number of important questions. Among these questions is likely who pays for wages you lost because you were too hurt to work.
Considering this question initially requires an examination of what are known as the elements of negligence. The legal elements of negligence establish responsibility for losses, including lost wages, in a personal injury case.
The Elements of Negligence
Generally speaking, a negligent person who causes an accident is responsible for the injuries and damages that flow from that incident. There are three elements associated with personal injury law that make a negligent person responsible for these losses:
- duty of care
- breach of that duty
- proximate cause
The duty of care is the requirement that a person act in a responsible manner in a particular situation. For example, a person driving a car needs to be attentive and pay attention to the task at hand.
Breaching that duty occurs when an individual fails to conduct his or her self in a reasonable manner. In the case of a car driver, if he or she texts while driving, that act can be considered a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care and be attentive.
The final element of establishing responsibility in a personal injury case is what is known among personal injury attorneys as proximate cause. In other words, the injuries resulting from an accident must have been proximately caused by the breach of duty. In the case of a texting driver, hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk would be considered proximately caused by the conduct of the driver.
If these three elements are satisfied in your personal injury case, you have demonstrated that the person who caused your injuries was negligent and that the negligence caused your losses. A reasonably foreseeable type of loss, and one you may have sustained, is a loss of income because you could not, or still cannot, work because of your injuries. Because of this, the person who caused the accident, or his or her insurance carrier, is responsible for compensating you for your lost income.
Future Lost Income
The reality is that you may not be able to return to your normal employment in the foreseeable future. Indeed, perhaps there is some possibility that you never will be able to return to your job in the future because of injuries sustained in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
In a personal injury case, you are entitled to compensation not only for income you have lost to date, but for wages you reasonably can be expected to lose in the future. The same legal principles discussed a moment ago can make a negligent person responsible for compensating you for future lost earnings.
If you are attempting reach a settlement of your case, that settlement needs to include compensation for future lost wages. If you fail to include this in the settlement agreement, you cannot come back at a later date and add it.
In a personal injury case, it oftentimes is necessary to obtain an expert who can provide reliable information about how your injuries will impact your future earning potential. A personal injury lawyer typically has access to these types of experts who can provide testimony and documentation to support your claim for current and future lost wages.
Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer
The most fundamental step to take to ensure that all your losses are compensated, including lost income, is retaining a skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney will schedule an initial consultation with you to discuss your case, at no charge to you.
The Lamber Goodnow Chicago personal injury law team, including our partner firms, have represented a variety of people in numerous personal injury cases. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers never charge a fee, unless we win your case. Get a risk free consultation today.