Last updated Nov. 30, 2018.
When you are injured through the fault of someone else, you are entitled under Ohio law to be compensated for your losses. That means compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and sometimes punitive damages.
It also means compensation for current and future lost income, lost work opportunities, and lost earning capacity. Lost income, lost opportunities, and lost earning capacity are often confused; this post will explain the difference.
Article at a Glance
- Ohio law entitles you to compensation for lost income, lost opportunities, and lost earning capacity when you are injured through the fault of another person.
- In Ohio, lost income refers to the amounts of money that you have or will lose as a result of your injury.
- Lost income is distinct from lost opportunities, which are chances to earn income that are thwarted by your injury.
- Lost earning capacity in Ohio is the loss of or decrease in your ability to earn in the future.
What is lost income in Ohio?
In addition to medical and other expenses, you may make a claim for lost income in Ohio— that is, the income you lost because you were unable to work and because of the time you spent getting medical treatment as a result of your injury. Whether you took personal, sick, or vacation days, or just missed work, it doesn’t matter in terms of a lawsuit. You can be compensated for the time off work.
To collect damages for lost income in Ohio, you will need to document the time you could not work. If you are an employee, you can ask your employer to write a letter indicating your rate of pay, how many hours you normally work, and how much work you missed since the accident. The letter doesn’t need to state whether or not you took personal, sick, or vacation days. Of course, you will also need evidence from your doctor.
If you are self-employed or not regularly employed by one company, you can still make a claim for lost income in Ohio. However, you will need to provide more detailed information. This might be proof of appointments you could not attend or commissioned work you were unable to deliver. However, just showing the time you missed is not enough; you also need to show how much money you lost.
If you make a pretty consistent amount of money throughout the year, you could show invoices and bank accounts that demonstrate a decrease in income. If your income is inconsistent month to month, you could use a yearly rather than a monthly basis to show lost income. One way to do this is to show the gross income on your tax return. If last year’s tax return is not representative, you can produce tax returns for a few recent years. You can also show proof of specific instances of where you lost work due to your injuries.
Lost Opportunities vs. Lost Income
Lost opportunities are not the same as lost income in Ohio, though they are related. For example, if you spent months trying to get an interview at your dream company, missed the interview due to the accident and they hired someone else, that’s a lost opportunity. Of course, the loss is much harder to quantify monetarily than lost income.
An Ohio personal injury lawyer can advise you what kind of proof would be persuasive in court for your individual circumstances.
What is lost earning capacity in Ohio?
When you sue for lost earning capacity in Ohio, you are suing for the loss of your future capacity to earn, not money you were unable to earn due to your injuries at the time of trial. Therefore, even if you were not working at the time of the accident or are a homemaker who has not worked outside the home in years, you can still be compensated for lost earning capacity in Ohio.
Future earning capacity is not certain, so there can be no exact calculation. Nevertheless, you must be able to show “reasonable certainty” of what you could have earned over your lifetime.
When determining lost earning capacity in Ohio, a judge or jury will not necessarily look at your earning history. The emphasis is on what you can earn over your lifetime rather than any given year or span of years. Certainly, a judge or jury may consider what you were earning at the time of the injury, but they do not have to conclude that is the amount of your future earning power.
Consequently, you can still recover for lost earning capacity in Ohio even if you earn more after the accident than you did before.
Projecting earning capacity into the future can be challenging, because a court may take possible future promotions, skill development, and raises into account, and there is no guarantee how a person’s career would unfold. To help prove lost earning capacity, your attorney may call expert witnesses.
In any kind of personal injury case based on negligence, such as motor vehicle accidents, Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence rule. That means if you are partially at fault, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault. However, if you are more than 50% to blame, you can collect nothing. O.R.C. § 2315.33
In Ohio, be aware that no matter how strong your case, if it is not filed within two years from the date of injury, you lose your rights to sue and be compensated. And for injuries that occur at work, the statute of limitations recently was reduced from two years to one year.
Contact Plevin & Gallucci If You Have Been Injured
Personal injury cases can be complex because they involve many different types of damages and projections into the future about what your life would have looked like had you not been injured. This is necessary for you to get the full compensation you deserve.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci can explain your options. Call us today at 1-855-4-PLEVIN for a free consultation.
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