Calculating Lost Wages
Many states limit the recovery of children and their parents by placing arbitrary caps on non-economic damages like pain, suffering, and inconvenience. That is one reason why it is important to carefully calculate the full value of a child’s economic damages, which include past and future medical expenses, and future lost wages.
Calculating Lost Wages: Your Child’s Career Path
There is no way to know with absolute certainty what a child with birth injuries like cerebral palsy would have done had the medical malpractice never occurred. However, an economist can help the jury to understand the probable lifetime wages. The economist will typically make two different calculations. The first will assume that the child would have entered the workforce after graduating high school. The second will assume that the child would have started working after completing college.
In either case, the calculation will be discounted by a number of factors, including:
- Income taxes normally paid
- Likelihood of injury during work-life
- Likelihood of death during work-life
- Likelihood of early retirement
- Likelihood of unemployment
- Adjusted for present value
Considering all of these factors will enable the economist, using available data, to average out the likely lifetime wages of a high school graduate and a college graduate. The economist may even personalize the information based on factors unique to the child, including jobs available in the geographic region where he grows up, and the education/careers of his parents.
The defense will have the option to argue against expert economist testimony. They may simply attempt to poke holes in the testimony of the child’s economist, or they may hire their own economist to come to their own conclusion.
The Jury’s Choice
The jury will then have information that will help them decide what the child’s lost wages are likely to be. The difference between income made by a high school graduate and a college graduate (taking into consideration the discount factors) can be $400,000.00 or more during the average lifetime. A jury will decide, based on the testimony at trial, what path they think the child would have taken. They will have the option to accept the economist’s values, or to come up with a different amount. They will be informed, for example, that the economist’s figures are based on averages. Many people earn more, and the jury is permitted to allocate more money to lost wages. Likewise, many people work longer than average retirement age.
If your child has been injured by medical negligence, contact our personal injury lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us some information about your case online. We can help you to determine whether you can file a lawsuit.