Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity for Maritime Workers
When you’re injured in a maritime accident, you may face a serious loss of income. For the duration of your injury, you may not be earning any wages. If you’re permanently injured and unable to return to work, you may have lost earning capacity, too. Lost wages and lost earning capacity are typically provided for under maritime law. What do you need to know about losing your income as a result of a maritime injury?
Recovering Lost Wages
Under maritime law, injured seamen are typically entitled to collect “maintenance and cure.” Maintenance includes a daily stipend to help cover your bills. Most of the time, though, this stipend is too low for a seaman on shore. Fortunately, the Jones Act offers the opportunity to recover lost wages from your injury.
If you’re eligible to make a Jones Act claim, you can typically recover lost wages from the time of your injury until you returned to work. These lost wages are calculated at the pay rate you were earning at the time of your injury. If you have not yet returned to work, you can file a Jones Act claim for lost future wages, too. You’ll just need to calculate your future lost wages based on a physician’s advice on when you’ll be able to return to work.
Damages for Lost Earning Capacity
If you’re permanently injured and you’re unable to return to your former job, you may be eligible to recover damages for lost earning capacity under the Jones Act. In some cases, injured seamen are able to return to work but only on light duty, or in a lesser capacity, which also corresponds with lesser pay. If you’ve suffered a pay cut as a result of your injury, you may be eligible to recover the lost earning capacity based on what you would have made if you’d continued working in your old job.
If you’ve been totally disabled and are unable to work, you may be able to recover damages for lost earning capacity for the rest of your working life. Under this scenario, an experienced maritime attorney would calculate your total wages until retirement, and you’d be eligible to make a claim for that dollar amount. This may factor in promotions and pay raises if you have a history of promotions. Recovering damages for lost earning capacity doesn’t compensate you for your injury, but it does help ensure you’ll be able to continue to pay your bills.