Under maritime law, “lost wages” refers to the compensation or damages awarded to an individual who has suffered a loss of income or earning capacity as a result of a maritime-related injury or accident. This term is commonly used in the context of personal injury claims or wrongful death claims arising from maritime incidents.

At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our personal injury and maritime injury attorneys routinely help victims recover lost wages. Losing your employment – even for a short time – can have a detrimental impact on your family and stability. We fight for our clients to ensure maximum compensation.

Below, we provide helpful information for maritime workers and their families on lost wages, including who qualifies and how to get help.

What Does Lost Wages Mean?

When an individual sustains injuries while working on a vessel or during any maritime activity, they may qualify for various types of compensation. This includes lost wages. Lost wages typically encompass both the income the individual has already lost due to the injury, as well as any potential future income they may be unable to earn as a result of their injuries.

To determine the amount of lost wages, the court considers several factors, such as the individual’s pre-injury earnings, their occupation, their ability to return to work, and future earnings. Expert testimony and evidence may be presented to establish the extent of the loss and the potential impact on earning capacity.

What is Lost Future Earnings and Earning Capacity?

In maritime law, “Lost Future Earnings” and “Lost Earning Capacity” are terms that relate to the compensation awarded to individuals who have suffered a loss of their ability to earn income due to a maritime injury or accident.

Lost Future Earnings

Lost future earnings refer to the income or wages an individual would have reasonably earned in the future if not for the injury or accident. The purpose of this compensation is to cover the income that the individual would have earned from the time of the incident until their retirement or a specific point in the future. The court considers various factors when calculating lost future earnings, including:

  • The individual’s age
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Potential career advancement

Lost Earning Capacity

Lost earning capacity refers to the impairment of an individual’s ability to earn income as a result of the injury. Unlike lost future earnings, which focus on the specific amount of income that would have been earned, lost earning capacity encompasses the overall reduction in the individual’s ability to earn income due to the limitations caused by the injury. This compensation takes into account not only the income that would have been earned in the future, but also the impact of the injury on:

  • Career opportunities
  • Promotions
  • Job prospects
  • Potential for wage increases

Calculating lost future earnings and earning capacity requires a thorough assessment of the individual’s pre-injury income. It also requires assessment of the occupation, the severity of the injury, and expert opinions on the ability to work in the future. Medical evidence, vocational assessments, and economic evaluations are often used to determine the extent of the loss and to provide a basis for the compensation.

Who Qualifies for Lost Wages?

Under maritime law, seamen and other workers are entitled to lost wages if they suffer an injury while working on a vessel. Maritime workers who qualify may include workers whose occupation involves the following:

  • Navigation of a vessel
  • Maintenance or repair of a vessel
  • Loading or unloading of a vessel
  • As a member of the crew of a vessel

Here are some additional factors that may affect eligibility for lost wages:

  • Length of employment
  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Ability to find new employment
  • Severity of the injury
  • Duration of any disability

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, you should contact a maritime attorney to discuss your legal options. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and file a claim for lost wages and other damages.

What Maritime Injuries Qualify for Lost Wages?

The maritime industry is known for its many hazards. Maritime laws exist to help compensate and provide financial stability while workers recover from an injury. Maritime injuries that qualify for lost wages include injuries due to:

  • Negligence or unseaworthiness of the vessel or its crew
  • Defective equipment or machinery
  • Hazardous working conditions
  • Acts of war or terrorism

To be eligible for lost wages, you must be able to prove that your injury was due to the negligence or unseaworthiness of the vessel or its crew. You must also be able to prove that you are unable to work as a result of your injury.

Examples of Maritime Injuries that May Qualify For Lost Wages

There are many maritime injuries that can potentially qualify for lost wages or other compensation under maritime law. Here are some examples of common maritime injuries:

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are common maritime injuries that can occur on vessels, docks, or other maritime workplaces. If an individual slips, trips, or falls due to unsafe conditions, resulting in injuries that require time off work or cause a loss of earning capacity, they may be eligible for compensation.

Machinery Accidents

Maritime workers often operate heavy machinery and equipment, which can lead to accidents and injuries. If a worker is injured due to a malfunctioning or improperly maintained machinery, resulting in lost wages, they may qualify for compensation.

Crane or Hoist Accidents

Accidents involving cranes, hoists, or lifting equipment can cause severe injuries to maritime workers. If an individual suffers injuries due to a crane or hoist accident, resulting in a loss of income or earning capacity, they may be eligible for compensation for their lost wages.

Falls Overboard

Falls overboard from a vessel or maritime structure can result in serious injuries or fatalities. Survivors of such accidents who suffer injuries leading to lost wages may be entitled to compensation.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Maritime workers engaged in physically demanding tasks may develop repetitive strain injuries over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back injuries. If these injuries significantly impact a worker’s ability to earn income, they may be eligible for compensation.

Toxic Exposure

Exposure to hazardous substances, chemicals, or toxic fumes on maritime vessels or in maritime workplaces can lead to severe health problems. If an individual suffers injuries or illnesses due to toxic exposure, resulting in an inability to work, they may be eligible for compensation.

Assault or Attacks

Unfortunately, maritime workers can be subjected to assaults or attacks while on the job. If a worker sustains injuries from such incidents, resulting in lost wages, they may be eligible for compensation for the income they have lost or will lose as a result.

These examples are not exhaustive. There can be various other types of maritime injuries that may qualify for lost wages compensation. Each case is unique, and the specific circumstances surrounding the injury, the extent of the loss, and applicable maritime laws will determine the eligibility for lost wages.

How Much Compensation do I Qualify For?

The amount of lost wages you may qualify for will depend on the severity of your injury, the length of time you were unable to work, and your earning capacity. Similar to factors that impact your eligibility for lost wages, there are also several factors that a court will consider when determining how much compensation you qualify for:

  • The extent of the injury
  • The extent to which you are expected to recover
  • When/if you resume ability to return to work
  • Any future promotions on the horizon
  • Estimated time until retirement
  • Estimated life expectancy

The court will carefully consider these and other factors when determining what type of lost wages you qualify for, how much you may expect, and the duration of any payments.

Find Out If You Qualify for Lost Wages

The best way to find out what your legal rights and options for compensation may be is to contact a maritime injury attorney. An attorney can review your injury and the circumstances leading up to it to help you determine:

  • Who is at fault
  • What maritime laws may apply
  • What compensation should be pursued
  • Whether negotiation or a lawsuit would be best

At Kherkher Garcia, our attorneys have decades of experience both negotiating settlements and obtaining verdicts at trial. Furthermore, we have recovered billions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including settlements and verdicts. If you are injured due to negligence, we know what it takes to get you the results you need to fully recover.

Find out how we can help you qualify and obtain lost wages after a maritime accident by contacting us for a free consultation. Fill out the form on our website, or call us at 713-333-1030 to get started.

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Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

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