Income Loss in Medical Malpractice Claims

by John McKiggan

Most of my medical malpractice clients have suffered catastrophic injuries that prevent them from being able to return to work or, in the case of infants and children, will prevent them from ever being able to work.

Economic Losses from Medical Malpractice

There are 2 ways to calculate economic losses suffered as a result of medical malpractice. The court will have to determine whether you have suffered an actual income loss or whether you have suffered a diminished earning capacity.

Income Loss from Medical Malpractice

If your are injured as a result of medical malpractice and your injuries prevent you from being able to work for days, weeks, months, or permanently then you can make a claim for the actual income you have lost as a result of the medical malpractice.

Income loss includes both:

Past Income Loss: You are entitled to be compensated for your actual income loss up to the date of settlement or trial. Usually this loss is one that is capable of being calculated fairly accurately. For example, if you were being paid $500.00 a week and you can’t work for 4 weeks as a result of your injuries, you are entitled to receive 4 weeks pay ($2,000.00) to compensate you for your past loss of income.

Future Loss of Income: If your injuries are going to prevent you from being able to work in the future, you are also entitled to be compensated for that loss. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a crystal ball. Claims for future loss of income can be difficult to calculate with precision. No one knows, for sure, what the future will hold.

When valuing a claim for future loss on income, the court will have to consider whether your injuries will prevent you from being able to work for two months, two years or forever.

Calculating claims for future income loss usually requires us to retain the services of an actuary or an economist who are experts in calculating past and future income loss claims. These experts take into account factors like cost of living increases or raises that you would be entitled to receive during your career, the normal retirement age for persons of similar employment, the pension benefits you would expect to receive on retirement, and a host of other factors.

Diminished Earning Capacity:

In some cases, the evidence may prove that you, or your family member, will never be able to work. However, we may not be able to calculate exactly what that loss will be. For example, when a 3 ½ year old child suffers a severe brain injury, who is to say whether that child would have grown up to be a plumber, a doctor, or a rock star?

In cases where the exact amount of the future income loss is not certain, the court will consider awarding, compensation for what is called “diminished earning capacity“.

Everyone’s ability to work is an asset. In other words, your physical abilities, education, training and experience are all assets that provide you with the opportunity to earn an income. If any or all of those abilities have been limited or reduced to some extent by your injuries, you may be entitled to an award for diminished earning capacity.

Again this type of claim usually requires us to hire experts to calculate exactly how reduced your ability to work is and to what extent your ability to earn income has been diminished.

If you are looking for a Nova Scotia Medical Malpractice Lawyer you can contact me for a free copy of my book: The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of potential medical malpractice victims never receive a penny in compensation.

If you believe you or a family member believe you may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice you can contact me through this blog, or call me toll free at 1-888-647-7201.

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