What are earnings and benefits-related economic damages?

Earnings and benefits-related economic damages are the lost earnings and employer-provided fringe benefits the injured individual or decedent’s family will no longer receive due to the personal injury or wrongful death. These are comprised of the lost earnings and benefits from the time of the incident through the present and can also include losses reasonably anticipated into the future.

In personal injury cases, losses are calculated as the difference between the earnings and benefits the individual was projected to have received had the injury not occurred, and the earnings and benefits they are projected to receive now that the injury has occurred. Read more about the 8 steps to calculating economic damages in personal injury cases.

In wrongful death cases, the family of the decedent has brought the lawsuit and therefore the losses are calculated as the financial support that the decedent would have provided to the family. The earnings the individual was projected to have received had the incident not occurred are first calculated. In most states, those earnings are adjusted for the amount the decedent would have personally consumed - the remainder of which would have been contributed to the family. Further, only benefits that would have been available to the family are calculated.

Earnings Types

There are a variety of methods by which employers pay employees.

Methods of payment relevant to damages

  • Hourly rate
  • Salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Tips
  • Piece rate pay
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Stock options
  • Or a combination of methods above

Employer-provided fringe benefits

Only employer-provided fringe benefits should be included in an earnings analysis, not benefits paid for by the individual themselves.

Types of benefits included in economic damages

  • Paid health insurance premiums
  • Contributions towards a health savings account
  • Paid life insurance premiums
  • Contributions to a 401k
  • Company pension plan
  • Social security contributions
  • Medicare contributions
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Meal and cafeteria plans
  • Day care incentives
  • Gym memberships
  • Subsidized car or phone payments

Damage Guide calculates economic damages in personal injury, wrongful death, employment, and business cases.

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