Lost Earnings in Accident Cases

If you’ve been injured in an accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for a variety of damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost earnings. In the recent case of Maggolc v. Roberson, Case No. 3D12-2001, out of the Third District Court of Appeal, an issue regarding what kind of proof is required to prove lost earnings was decided by the Court. In the case, Roberson was injured when he was thrown off his motor scooter after hitting a manhole pipe that the Maggolc repair company failed to cover when resurfacing the pavement in the area. The case went trial and the jury awarded Roberson more than $500,000 in damages. This award covered past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost earnings. Maggolc appealed the award and argued that Roberson’s testimony was “skimpy” regarding his past and future earning capacity and was unsupported by financial records. The Court noted that Roberson testified that he was making $80,000 before he was injured, but did not file any tax returns and did not have receipts, or bank records to establish his rates or earnings. He also testified that his earnings had dropped annually by $17,500 since the accident. He also had a witness testify that he worked long hours six to seven days a week.

While the evidence was not ideal, the Appellate Court decided that it was enough to support the jury’s decision. The Court noted, “No Florida court has determined that a claim for an individual’s lost past earnings must be supported by documentary evidence, or that the failure to file income tax returns for those earnings precludes recovery. These issues are, as they were here, for the jury to right in their in their assessment of Mr. Roberson’s credibility.” While Mr. Roberson may have succeeded with his lost earnings claim based only on testimony, in most cases you will want to provide paystubs, bank statements, tax returns, employment records, and other financial documents in order to prove lost earnings. If future lost earnings are an issue, it is sometimes necessary for an economic and/or vocational expert to testify to support the claim. If you’ve been injured in an accident, we invite you to call Robert Sparks Attorneys for a review of all potential damages you may be able to recover, including lost wages.