In Oklahoma, workers’ compensation is designed to reimburse injured workers a percentage of their average weekly pay.
However, it’s not enough for injured workers to only be compensated for what their injuries have already cost them in missed paychecks. In order for workers’ compensation benefits to truly be a safety net for people who are temporarily or permanently disabled, the benefits also need to provide future income replacement.
In this blog, we’ll look at how future income benefits are calculated for injured workers who apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Lost Wages Often Go Beyond Workers’ Average Wages
It’s typical to calculate injured workers’ replacement income through workers’ compensation as an average of their weekly wages before their injury. But how many workers earn the same amount of money, without any increase, throughout their working years?
Almost all workers get raises, whether it’s through promotions, annual raises, or even cost-of-living adjustments. While injured workers who will return to work less than one year after their injuries may not need to look far into the future to calculate their lost earning potential, injured workers who are permanently disabled or who must switch to lower-paying work must take their lost earning potential into consideration when demanding compensation.
On-the-Job Injuries Can Derail Promising Careers
The difference in pay between entry-level employees who are still learning the ropes and senior employees who are masters of their craft can be significant. In many professions, reaching senior level is common for employees who put in years of time and energy into their crafts. But when entry-level workers are seriously injured on the job and can no longer work, they are denied the opportunity to improve their skillsets and enjoy an increase in income.
Calculating lost earning potential is an important part of workers’ compensation claims, especially for permanently disabled workers, as it takes this loss into consideration. For example, it’s not fair to pay an injured carpenter compensation equal to entry-level wages for the rest of his life if he was injured early in his career but could have reasonably reached master carpenter level with enough time in the profession.
Proving Lost Earning Capacity Requires Evidence and Experience
It’s difficult enough getting approved for workers’ compensation benefits, let alone trying to convince the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission that a permanent injury or disability should result in the injured worker receiving hypothetical pay. But it IS possible to be approved for benefits that factor in lost earning capacity, especially when it can be proven that the injured worker had the experience, education, and overall capacity to succeed in their career.
Expert witnesses, including industry professionals who can attest to an injured worker’s aptitude and doctors who can prove that their injuries will prevent them from advancing in their careers, can help bolster the chances of success. A history of positive work reviews, previous promotions, and bonuses at work can also provide proof that an injured worker was on track for higher pay. Hiring a lawyer experienced with personal injury lawyers can help you determine what type of evidence you’ll need and help you put that evidence together.
Let Our Lawyers Help You Get Every Penny You’re Owed
For many injured workers, getting a percentage of their weekly paychecks through workers’ compensation is a big win. But at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know that’s not always enough. When workers are permanently disabled or forced to switch to lower-paid work, they need to be adequately compensated for another loss they’ve incurred: their future career success.
If you or someone you love was injured on the job, we want to help you get full compensation for your lost wages both now and in the future. If you had a promising career ahead of you cut short because of a serious injury, you should be compensated fairly. Contact our Oklahoma workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation.