Lost Wages Are Important Aspect of Damages in Georgia Personal Injury Cases
Most times, if a plaintiff has suffered a serious personal injury, there will be a claim for lost wages. As can be expected, defendants may claim that plaintiff is not entitled to lost earnings because of a few reasons, such as:
- Plaintiff was unemployed at time of injury.
- Plaintiff’s can not show amount of earnings that will be lost with certainty.
However, the plaintiff’s employment status at time of injury is normally irrelevant. Olariu V. Marrero, 248 Ga. App. 824 (2001). In Marrero, the jury awarded $25,000 in lost past earnings and $100,000 in lost future earnings, noting, “we find Olariu’s argument that Marrero was not entitled to a recovery for future earnings because she was unemployed at the time of the accident to be unpersuasive. Marrero presented evidence which would allow the jury to make a reasonable determination of loss for both past and future earnings.”
Furthermore, the plaintiff does not need to show the exact amount of income lost. Based on evidence of what the plaintiff was able to do before and after the injury, the nature and percentage of permanent impairment, and the value of the services before the injury, a jury may make an award as compensation for diminished earning capacity, whether or not the evidence establishes with any exactitude the lost future earnings. Georgia Farmers’ Market Authority v. Dabbs, 150 Ga. App. 15, 19(8) (256 S.E.2d 613) (1979). Lost wages and earnings are recoverable where the evidence shows the amount of loss with reasonable certainty. Douglas v. Rinker, 134 Ga. App. 949 (216 S.E.2d 629) (1975).
Plaintiff simply must prove the following to recover lost wages at trial:
1. That the plaintiff’s injury is permanent and what effect her loss of vision will have on her ability to work. This is done through treating doctors and the plaintiff herself. Loss of future earnings are recoverable where evidence is presented on the permanency of plaintiff’s injury, the effect of injury on earnings, and the monetary amount thereof. Gilbert v. Parks, 140 Ga. App. 550 (1)(a) (231 S.E.2d 391) (1976).
2. That the plaintiff worked in the past and that she was planning on working in the future. This can be shown, for example by using W-2’s to prove past earnings and plaintiff to testify she was going to work in the future. A recovery for “loss of future earnings” is available where there is proof of loss of definite earnings that would have been received in the future but for an injury, even though the injury is not permanent. See Myrick v. Stephanos, 220 Ga. App. 520, 521 (2) (472 S.E.2d 431) (1996).
3. Treating doctor can testify that Plaintiff was not able to work following injury for a period of time and have doctor give her a permanent disability rating. In Marrero, a physician testified that Marrero had been medically unable to work since the accident and suffered a permanent five percent disability under the AMA guidelines. In her job immediately prior to the collision, Marrero was earning seven dollars an hour and working 35-38 hours a week. Olariu V. Marrero, 248 Ga. App. 824 (2001).
For more than 20 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured or died as a result of the negligence of others in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Alpharetta, Austell, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about your potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.