When you suffer a personal injury that someone else bears responsibility for, you can and should demand compensation. If you missed work because of your injuries, you can claim lost earnings as a form of economic damages.

Background: The Elements of a Typical Negligence Claim

Not all personal injury claims are negligence claims, but most are. 

To qualify for compensation for an injury caused by negligence, you need to prove the following four facts: 

Proving this much will entitle you to economic and non-economic damages. Lost earnings and diminished earning capacity are both forms of economic damages.

If your injury was work-related, your case will probably fall within the jurisdiction of the workers’ compensation system. You cannot typically file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer and pursue a workers’ compensation claim. 

The good news is that you can qualify for compensation without proving fault. The bad news is that the amount of compensation you are likely to qualify for is quite limited compared to personal injury compensation. 

Prerequisite: Maximum Medical Improvement

Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is a critical preliminary consideration when you claim compensation for lost earnings and diminished earning capacity.

You have reached MMI when your doctor declares that they don’t expect your medical condition to improve any further. That might mean a full recovery, or it might mean permanent disability. It’s best to wait until you reach MMI before you calculate the value of your claim so you don’t have to speculate on the amount of future lost earnings.

If you’re suffering from permanent disability, however, this kind of speculation might be unavoidable.

Lost Earnings

Lost earnings are the amount of money you lost because you missed work due to your injuries. This amount can be easy to or difficult to calculate.

Hourly Wage Earners

Hourly wage earners working consistent schedules find it relatively easy to calculate lost earnings.

Imagine, for example, that you make $30 per hour, eight hours a day, five days a week. You miss four work days because of your injury. That’s 4 days X 8 hours/day X $30/hour = $960.

Salary Earners

Things get trickier if you’re working for a monthly salary and inconsistent hours.

In that case, you might need to average out your monthly hours over several months. Then, divide your monthly salary by the average number of days you work in a month to get an average daily dollar earnings figure. Finally, multiply that amount by the number of days of work you missed. 

The biggest problem here might be proving your calculations with admissible evidence.

Freelancers and Entrepreneurs

Freelancers and entrepreneurs work inconsistent hours for inconsistent income. Calculating lost earnings, then, can be a real challenge. One way to do it, at least if you have diligently documented your income, is to calculate your average monthly earnings and then calculate your losses as if that average figure were your monthly salary.

Vacation Pay and Annual Leave

You can demand full pay for sick leave you used, and for any personal leave you might have used due to your injury. This rule applies even if you have already received full pay for your sick leave. 

The reason behind this rule is that your annual leave is a valuable resource. If you use up your sick leave due to your accident, you won’t have any leave time remaining if you get sick later in the year.


You are entitled to reimbursement for any overtime pay you would have otherwise received. 

If you normally work overtime during the holiday season, it’s reasonable to assume that you would have worked overtime during the holiday season if you hadn’t been too injured to work.


You are entitled to reimbursement for any benefits, such as IRA contributions or health insurance, that you sacrificed due to your injury.

Lost Business Opportunities

Lost business opportunities are tough to calculate. How much money did you lose, for example, by missing that trade show? A skilled personal injury attorney can help you make this complicated calculation. 

Diminished Earning Capacity

Tragically, catastrophic injuries often result in long-term or permanent disability. In a worst-case scenario, your injury might even force you into early retirement.

So, how much will you lose in the future due to your current disability? You will almost certainly need an expert witness to calculate this amount for you.  

An Experienced LawrencevillePersonal Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Claim

A Lawrenceville personal injury lawyer can gather evidence, calculate the value of your claim, find expert witnesses, and negotiate a settlement for you. And you won’t owe a dime in legal fees unless you win.