Economic Damage Presentations
Determining Loss of Earning Capacity
The presentation of damages in a personal injury case is a three-part process. The process is analogous to building a house. The foundation for the damages is laid by the physician who will discuss the case with regard to impairment and functional capacity. The framework is constructed by the vocational expert who discusses the effect of the impairment on the client’s ability to work and earn money.
The expert will answer such questions as:
- Can the individual go back to his/her prior work?
- Can the client perform the full range of this work?
- Has the injury affected the client’s ability to avail themselves of overtime opportunities?
- If the client cannot return to his/her pre-injury occupation, can the skills previously learned or education obtained be transferred to other types of jobs requiring less physical capabilities?
- If there are no transferable skills, what unskilled work can be performed, and at what exertion level?
- How much do the jobs the client can perform pay?
- Is there any work that the client can perform given his/her physical and/or psychological limitations?
The last component of the house to be added is the roof. This is built by the economist who extrapolates the information provided by the vocational expert and projects the wage data. This will provide the future loss of earning capacity which becomes the “bottom line” figure.
This method of “building” the damages part of the case is extremely effective as each expert is supported by the other, and it thus solidifies and moves the case presentation along in court. If each attorney attempts to shortcut the three-part damage process, leaving out one of the three experts, a loophole is provided for the other side’s scrutiny.
The techniques used by a vocational expert in Workers’ Compensation, wrongful termination, and divorce cases do not differ from those encountered in personal injury cases. The types of disabilities evaluated in these cases can range from a severely fractured wrist to a torn medial meniscus, to a herniated cervical or lumbar disc, to a spinal cord injury.
Emotional or psychological disabilities are also prevalent. Due to the range of disabilities and their varying affects on earning capacity, it is prudent to retain a vocational expert to assess employability and earning capacity.
The use of a vocational expert is an important part of developing the damages in a case. Contact OAS at 1-800-292-1919 and hire us as your vocational evaluation and life care plan expert. We’ll assist you in determining the amount of earning capability through our economic damage presentation process.