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How Can I Prove Lost Wages To A Jury?

It is difficult for any New Orleans resident to suffer a loss of income. When this loss of income arises from a personal injury accident, the injured party may seek compensation for lost wages as part of a lawsuit. When doing so, however, he or she must be able to establish the value of these lost wages.

Lost wages fall under a category of damages referred to as “special damages”. Special damages consist of costs arising from the injury that can be established with a reasonable degree of mathematical certainty. In addition to lost wages, special damages include items such as medical bills and replacement of property. All of these items may be numerically calculated based on established prior losses and anticipated future losses.

Because lost earnings can be mathematically determined, the Louisiana courts have tended to limit the discretion of the jury when setting an amount to award in lost earnings. At trial, the burden is on the injured party to prove the amount of lost wages, and he or she must present some evidence to support the amount rewarded. In many cases, this is simply a matter of presenting documentation of income, such as payroll information or tax returns, and proof of the amount of time missed from work. If a person remains out of work and future lost wages are being pursued, medical evidence will also be necessary to support how long it is anticipated it will be before the injured party may resume working.

In situations where a precise mathematical calculation cannot be made — such as may occur when someone operates a cash business or is a contract employee with widely variable income — a trial court is allowed to award a “reasonable” amount of lost earnings. This amount, however, cannot be based upon pure speculation regarding what the injured person may have earned. Instead, there must be some independent basis for the amount awarded such as proof of lost contracts.

If you have missed time from work as a result of a personal injury and have any questions, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.