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Claiming Compensation: Lost Earning Capacity in Illinois

In addition to physical pain and mental trauma, a car accident victim often suffers heavy financial losses.

If you suffer a serious injury from an accident, you may need to take days off from work, which could affect your earnings. Add to this your medical bills and the cost of repairing your damaged car and you could feel the financial pinch. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may even lose your ability to perform your previous job, or even worse, you could become partially or permanently disabled as a result of the accident.

What is Considered Loss of Income?

The amount of money or other employee benefits you lose as a result of your injury from an accident is referred to as “Loss of Income.” For instance, if you suffer a severe injury requiring hospitalization or time off from work, the wages and benefits you lose is considered as your loss of income.

If your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, you can claim compensation for your lost earnings. Depending on the laws in your state, you may need to file a lawsuit against the party at fault to recover your financial losses. Even when you suffer income loss at intervals, you can still recover your lost earnings. For example, if your injury causes you to take a total of 30 days leave within six months, you are still entitled to financial compensation for your lost earnings. However, you need to provide valid documents to support your claim.

What Is Referred to as Lost Earning Capacity?

An accident victim may no longer be able to perform some tasks with the same intensity in which he or she was doing the work prior to the injuries. Any such loss in the ability to earn income is referred to as “Lost Earning Capacity.”

If you suffer any such injury that affects your future earning capacity, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost earning capacity, in addition to what you receive for your immediate loss of income. It may be difficult to determine any lost earning capacity. Some factors that are taken into consideration when calculating lost earning capacity are as follows:

  • The work profile of the accident victim, including  professional skills, years of experience, abilities, and talent.
  • A doctor’s opinion on the severity of the injury and how that may affect the injured person’s future earning capacity.
  • An estimate of the injured person’s possible loss of income in the future factoring in current market values and wage rates.
  • An estimate of the total future losses of an injured person may vary depending on where he or she lives and the standard of living.

Difference between Lost Earning Capacity and Lost Income

It is relatively difficult to calculate one’s lost earning capacity, compared to the calculation of lost income. This is because the former requires making estimates based on the insured person’s ability to work in the future. Consult with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer from Willens law Offices. We can help you determine your lost earning capacity and help you recover compensation.

What Can I Be Compensated for After My Accident in Illinois?

If you have been seriously injured or hurt in a car accident or any other type of personal injury accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for various economic and non-economic damages—or what your injuries have cost you monetarily, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Medical Expenses

A personal injury accident damages award will almost always compensate you for medical expenses. Medical expenses include the costs incurred from consultations with doctors, hospital stays, ambulance fees, medication costs, and testing expenses. This may also include the regular ongoing care or in-home services you might need as a result of the injury.

Lost Wages

Your injury may have caused you to miss several days, weeks or even months of work.
You may be compensated for lost wages, or the wages you otherwise would have earned if you had not been injured. If you are no longer able to do your job due to your injury and are forced to take a lower-paying job, you may also obtain compensation for your loss of earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain you may have experienced and may continue to deal with as a result of your injuries, as well as the emotional and mental distress resulting from the accident, such as stress of anxiety.

Property Damage

Your vehicle, clothing or other items may have been damaged, too. You may be reimbursed for any repairs to damaged property, or compensated for the fair market value of property that was lost as a result of the accident.

Loss of Consortium/Companionship

Loss of consortium or loss of companionship is also another damage you can claim compensation for if your injury prevents you from maintaining a physical relationship with your spouse, or keeps you from fully enjoying your relationship with your children and spouse.

Compensation for Loss of Consortium Explained

Many times, the term ‘loss of consortium’ finds its way through legal documents pertaining to compensation claims. Loss of consortium is an important part of filing a car accident claim. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a reckless driver, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help you recover compensation and loss of consortium.

What is Loss of Consortium?

The term ‘loss of consortium’ is best explained by the following example. A family driving on a road meets with an accident and the driver is seriously injured. The other family members in the vehicle are injured as well. Recuperation from any physical injury takes time. Work life, family life, and a number of other factors are also affected. A loss of normal life, the inability to perform daily chores, the loss of normal sexual life, humiliation and embarrassment, and the stress that accompanies recuperation fall under ‘loss of consortium’.

Proving Loss of Consortium

The family are the most important part of a person’s life. Whether they are injured or not, the family will be affected by the accident as well. Even if physical injuries heal and medical bills are paid for, the stress, tension, and inability to lead the normal life that they led before the accident can be compensated for as well.

For example, a spouse may find it difficult to manage day-to-day chores in the same way before the accident or a child may be traumatized and develop vehicle-related phobias. The whole family may find it difficult to cope with mood changes and emotional distress that a family member experiences during the recovery period. The intangible loss of comfort and normal life can severely damage a happy family.

Are You Still Entitled to Compensation in a Hit and Run Car Accident?

If you have been in a Chicago hit and run car accident, resulting in not only property damage but serious personal injury, you may be worried that you cannot get compensation.

Drivers are required by law to stop after a car accident. However, many drivers do not, either because they do not have insurance or they do not want the hassle and consequences of their actions. If you have been in a hit and run car accident, resulting in not only property damage but serious personal injury, you may be worried that you cannot get compensation.

Do not worry, you can still get compensation after a hit and run car accident if you are carrying uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is not a required part of all car insurance policies offered in the state of Illinois, so unless you voluntarily waived coverage, you should have access to compensation for a hit and run accident.

Unfortunately, though, getting compensation is not always as easy as notifying your insurance company.

When Your Insurance Company Is Your Adversary

Most of the time, your insurance company is supposed to work with you to get you the best deal possible after your car accident. They want the other insurance company to pay, so they will support you when you say an accident is not your fault.

However, when you are making an uninsured motorist claim for a hit and run accident, you may see a different side of your insurance company, as they try to deny or minimize your claim. They may even try to prove that there was no other driver, that the accident was your fault alone.

If An Accident Was Partly My Fault, Can I Still Seek Compensation?

In Illinois, if you are in an accident and partly at-fault, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.

Sometimes after an accident, you may feel partially responsible.  This is true after a vehicle collision, a slip and fall situation or many other types of accidents.  With those thoughts, you may figure that you may not have any legal recourse, but you might be wrong.  In Illinois, if you are in an accident and you are partly at-fault, you very well may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.  If the accident is fifty percent or less your fault, your recovery will depend on “comparative negligence.”  Illinois has a modified comparative negligence statute (735 ILCS 5/2-1116) as the standard for recovery of damages.

Case Study

Instead of going into the legalities of comparative negligence, let me illustrate:  Let’s say you were in a car accident and you suffered injuries.  Your case goes to trial and the jury awards you $100,000.  The jury also determines that you were 25% at fault for the accident.  Therefore, your jury award would be $75,000.  Now, if the jury determined that you were 55% at fault for the accident, you would get nothing. If you are 50% or less at fault, you can recover compensation.  In those cases, any damages would be reduced in proportion to your fault.

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