If you suffer injuries from a medical malpractice incident that interfered with your ability to work, you can sue the liable party to recover lost income. While employees can simply present paycheck stubs to corroborate their claims, it's a little more challenging for people who are self-employed to do so. Here are a few tips to help you prove how much money you lost due to being unable to work, so you can collect what you're owed.
Showing Lost Earning Capacity
The first thing the judge will want confirmed is that you were unable to work because of your injuries. How difficult this will be will depend on the nature of your condition and the type of work you do. For example, if your work requires you to do a lot of walking, you would need to show how the malpractice incident either hindered your mobility to the point where you either couldn't walk for long enough to complete the job or couldn't do the job at all for a while.
Showing lost earning capacity will typically require you to submit a description of the type of work you do on an average day and then provide medical reports showing how your injuries have impacted your ability to do it. You will then need to quantify the loss of ability into a percentage or a dollar amount. If you're a real estate agent and showing homes constitutes a large part of your work and you lost 50 percent of your business because you could no long perform this function, then you could claim up to 50 percent loss of earning capacity due to your injury, for example.
You may need to hire a vocational expert to help you determine the market rate of your work and to calculate the long-term value of your earning capacity loss to ensure you get the maximum amount you're owed.
Proving Loss of Income
Proving loss of current income due to your injury is a little easier. Typically, you would need to present several years of tax returns. The court will then calculate an average income using those documents and base your award on that number. For instance, if you made $48,000 one year and $50,000 the second year, the court will base your award on $49,000.
However, this option only works if your income remains pretty much the same over the course of your self-employment. If you experienced a significant increase prior to the malpractice incident, you will need to provide additional proof of the growth. For example, submitting invoices or sales receipts for the months prior to your injuries can corroborate your claim for a higher income.
Substantiating Loss of Opportunity
Another type of compensation you can collect for is loss of opportunity. If your injury causes you to lose income related to business opportunities you acquired before the incident, you can ask the defendant to reimburse you for that loss. For instance, if you're an actor and you lost the opportunity to star in a TV show because of your injury, you can ask to be compensated for the value of that contract.
To prove loss of opportunity, you will have to provide evidence it was something that was on the table before your injury and that the loss was the direct result of the incident. This would require you to submit contracts, emails, and even written statements from business partners or customers detailing the opportunity. You would then need to show how your injury negatively impacted your ability to follow through and how it resulted in the cancellation or loss of the opportunity.
A medical malpractice attorney from firms like Lee Eadon Isgett Popwell & Owens can help you with all these issues. It's best to contact one for assistance obtain compensation for your losses.