Calculating Loss of Future Income in a Fairfax Wrongful Death Case

In wrongful death cases and other injury claims one of the most unique types of damages is that of loss of future income. Unlike other types of damages which may be easily quantifiable, loss of future income often requires some type of expert in order to reach an amount. As a result, a Fairfax wrongful death attorney who has experience with these types of cases and vocational experts is imperative to filing a successful claim.

How Loss of Income is Calculated

Loss of future income is calculated in a number of different ways. Often it is calculated using in-depth knowledge of the deceased’s prior income levels, their opportunities for advancement within their field of work, and their reasonable, expected remaining years to work. This is done through expert testimony, usually an accountant or economic loss expert. Economic loss experts who have experience as to which types of jobs earn which salaries, the period of time in which one would expect a promotion, as well as the known permanent labor tables regarding installation and things of that nature.

This is something that is unique in every case. In some cases it is readily calculable as the person has already reached the pinnacle of their earning capacity when they die, and they are expected to stay at that level for an easily determinable number of years.

The more difficult situation is when a young person passes away as a result of a wrongful death. Perhaps they were in college and studying to do something, or maybe had not made it to the highest level of education. Those are very speculative and experts are necessary to provide a proper weight for the likelihood of different scenarios, and their potential earnings in those scenarios.

Loss of Future Income Experts

The most interesting insight in quantifying the loss of future income is that vocational experts working with economic experts and accountants can really come up with a wide variety of numbers for a person’s potential loss of income. The vocational experts can look at how much certain jobs pay in particular regions in the United States or the world, and calculate loss based upon the likelihood of a person’s income in that field.

There may be a variety of opinions as far as the vocational experts as well. It is not uncommon for one job to vary 10%, 20% and even 30% from one region to another for example, or even state by state or town by town. For example, in the Washington D.C. area people earn a much larger salary than in many other parts of the country for similar skills or jobs.

The locality differential is calculated by a vocational expert and used in determining the potential loss of income. It is very unique that these experts can come out with a considerable range of maybe tens of thousands of dollars over the course of someone’s professional lifetime.

Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Fairfax

Wrongful death cases are a specific subset of personal injury actions. They are governed very strictly by the Virginia Code Section 8.01-52 and the subsequent case law that modifies that code section. Wrongful death is from common law so we have a code section that makes it a statutory action now.

There are also specific things laid out in the Code as to how one must present evidence, what types of evidence are available and things of that nature, and those are specific to wrongful death actions. Jurisdiction and style are also part of the Code mandate as to what and where a wrongful death action may be filed, and this is sometimes different from a personal injury action.

For example, a wrongful death action is not brought in the name of the deceased. It is not brought on the first party of the action, “John Smith vs. Joe Smith” when John Smith is the deceased. A beneficiary must be involved who should be properly qualified by the Code of that jurisdiction, and then they have legal standing to bring the wrongful death action. So there are a lot of different moving parts and a lot of areas where an attorney who is not experienced in wrongful death actions could make an error. Therefore, you should look for attorneys with experience who are comfortable in this area of the law.