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Recovering Lost Future Wages for an Injured Child

By David Boehrer | Posted on November 05, 2020

If a child suffers traumatic injuries that impact future employment and earning capability, a legal claim may be filed to recover lost future wages.

Recovering Lost Future Income for Childhood Injuries

Injury cases involving children are often more complicated than those involving adults. Severe childhood injuries can impact the future quality of life for victims. Additionally, childhood injuries may result in a loss of future income due to long-term physical or mental impairment or disability.

As a child grows and develops normally, his or her future is based on performance and accomplishments. Economists often use a probability performance scale that considers a child’s education, socioeconomic background, family history, sex, race, and location to predict the child’s natural earning potential over the course of his or her lifetime.

When a child suffers a traumatic injury that affects physical and/or cognitive functions, his or her future accomplishments and earning potential may be dramatically changed. Children who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries often lose both physical and cognitive functions. Following an injury, a child may experience:

  • Inability to walk
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Difficulty processing or retaining information
  • Inability to think or learn new skills
  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Loss of memory

Catastrophic injuries often lead to loss of motor skills and cognitive functions. Depending on the severity of injuries, an impairment may be temporary or permanent. Children who suffer catastrophic injuries often have life-long impairments. The loss of motor skills and cognitive functions play a major role in a child’s future ability to gain or retain employment and income, especially in industries that require physical labor or mental acuity.

Calculating Loss of Future Income

When a child suffers a traumatic injury that impacts the long-term quality of life, parents may be able to file a legal claim to recover loss of future income. Cases that involve young children are more complex because it’s more difficult to determine education levels, career paths, and potential earning capacity. Young children have no employment history, so predicting a future loss of wages is speculative. Injury cases that involve teenagers are less complex as there may be evidence of a chosen career path that provides a baseline for determining future wages. 

If a teenager or young adult has already started a career path, loss of future income is easier to calculate. By comparing the victim’s earned income prior to the injury to the income (if any) earned after the injury, lost earnings from the date of the injury to the date of the trial or settlement can be calculated. In the case of a permanent or long-term injury, the loss of future earnings is calculated by projecting that loss into the future over the course of the victim’s expected work life. However, the calculation must take all wage increases, anticipated promotions or bonuses, and the present value of future losses into account.

When traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries in a child cause physical or mental problems that may impact future abilities, a personal injury lawyer may work with a child neurologist, a vocational expert, and an economist to determine the total impact on the victim’s life. A neurologist can determine the severity of a brain injury and its impact on physical or cognitive functions. A vocational expert can determine how sustained injuries affect employment possibilities and future earning potential. An economist can calculate future lost income based on these conclusions.

Filing a Nevada Injury Claim

In Nevada, a statute of limitations applies to all personal injury lawsuits. If the lawsuit involves injuries to a child, a claim must be filed by the child’s parent or guardian within two years from the date of injury, or the date the injury was realized. However, the statute of limitations is generally tolled until plaintiffs who are minor children reach the age of 18. Sort of a legal time out, tolling of the statute of limitations allows the child to file an injury claim up to two years after his or her 18th birthday.

Not all injury claims qualify for loss of future earnings. Specific circumstances must be present for a plaintiff to seek these types of damages. The plaintiff must have an injury that impacts potential employment and his or her ability to earn money in the future. If this applies, the plaintiff can claim a loss of earning capacity and seek compensation for future lost wages through a personal injury lawyer. When determining compensation, the court will consider the child victim’s age, occupation, skill, and overall life expectancy.

Some child injury cases are caused by the negligence of another person. If the negligence of another party is proven, compensation for losses related to medical expenses, disability benefits, pain and suffering, and lost future income may be awarded.

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