Lost income can make up a large portion of your economic damages. A crippling personal injury can make it impossible for you to work or in many cases, diminish your ability to perform your prior work duties. Assessing current lost wages can be a simpler task than assessing future lost wages, and so your personal injury attorney will employ what is known as a “Vocational Expert”. A Vocational Expert will serve as an expert witness in your case with a profound understanding of the current job market and the skills required to perform specific job duties. Your personal injury attorney will rely on what is known as a “Vocational Expert Damage Report” to determine what you are entitled to in terms of future lost income.
A Vocational Expert will create a comprehensive report after both examining and evaluating the extent of your injury – particularly its prognosis, with the help of your physician’s notes. With detailed information on the extent/prognosis of your injuries, they’ll determine how long your injury may leave you unable to return to work.
Fully understanding the extent/prognosis of your injury is only one portion of their job as an expert witness. They also gain a deep understanding of your specific industry and what is required of you both in physicality and aptitude in order to perform your job duties. Through the statistical analysis, they can predict industry trends, the earning capacity of someone in your position and how often they obtain raises or are given promotions. They may perform a personal job analysis which includes the earnings of your past jobs to do so using W-2s, income tax records, employer wages verifications, or union contract information in order to gain a better understanding of any raises you may have been entitled to pre-injury.
Your physician may allow you to return to work on “light duty”, meaning you may not be able to perform the tasks that you could prior to incurring your injury. Any discrepancy between the pay you received pre-injury and post-injury is calculated into your damages. And if their job analysis shows that someone who performs your particular work duties obtains periodic raises, and your job function has impeded on your own career growth, discrepancy between the pay you would receive after a raise and the pay you receive after your job duties have changed will also be included in your economic damages.