So, you have been through an injury accident, have gone to the doctor for a long time, have missed plenty of work, and have endured pain and suffering. But, now you finally feel better and are back to work. So, it is time to settle with the insurance company for your past economic damages (medical bills and lost wages) and past non-economic damages (pain and suffering), right? Maybe, but maybe not; you may be entitled to much more. We often times assume that, if we are able to return to work in a full capacity as we were pre-accident, or at least something substantially similar, that we are not permanently impaired and/or not eligible to make a claim for future lost wages to the insurance company at the time of settlement. But, this is entirely incorrect. In Kentucky, personal injury victims are also entitled to economic damages for loss of power to labor and earn in the (perhaps distant) future. If you think about this, it makes perfect sense. You have had a serious injury and, as such, are now likely to have a shorter work life expectancy than someone who has not had to undergo similar circumstances as you. If you had an injury to a joint, you may now be at an increased risk to develop early onset arthritis. If your spine was injured, you may now be at an increased risk to have early onset disc deterioration. If you had a concussion (don’t forget that this is a mild traumatic brain injury), you may now be at an increased risk for future cognitive recall problems. And there are lots of other scenarios similar to this. Even if you simply have problems walking and/or climbing stairs as a result of your accident, you may now be considered to have a minor disability which is expected to shorten your work life.
Many people don’t realize that there are professionals who may serve as expert witnesses who can quantify the likely loss of income one is going to incur as a result of an injury, even if that person is back to work. And if you think about it, it can be substantial. One who is 25 years old and makes $25,000 a year may return to making that salary within six months of his injury accident, but if that accident has now shortened his work life expectancy by 6 years (i.e. he will now likely have to retire at age 60 instead of 66), that person now has a $150,000 loss of power to labor and earn, plus an amount for interest and fringe benefits.
The moral to this story is that you likely only get one chance to resolve your injury claim before being forced to release all claims against the at fault party and his/her insurance company. Be sure to not only recover your past damages, economic and non-economic, but to get your future damages which may be tough for you to comprehend right now.