The non-incident earnings and benefits are what your client is projected to have earned had they not been injured or died. In many cases, their historical earnings provide the best guide to what they would have earned. Depending on the person’s employment history, the most accurate representation of their earnings capacity may be provided by an average, an inflation-adjusted average, or their last full-year of earnings. Here are the documents to review when analyzing their historical earnings.
However, in some instances the historical earnings do not represent the individual’s earnings capacity. In these cases, it is common to utilize the average earnings for similar individuals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.com are two resources for analyzing earnings of individuals for whom historical earnings are not available or relevant. Here is a list of some of the online data resources to use.
For example, if the injured person was finishing their education or if they recently joined the labor force, their recent low or non-existent earnings doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t have earned more over throughout their life. In examples like these, the average earnings of similar individuals in their occupation, industry, or at their education level may provide more accurate insight into what they would have been capable of earning throughout their life.
In other cases, historical earnings are not used to project non-incident earnings because there simply are no historical earnings to reference. Cases involving minor children who had yet to enter the labor market before the injury or death, and individuals who received earnings ‘off the books’ are two examples of cases in which alternative sources for earnings projections are required.