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Vocational Rehabilitation Experts

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who had questions about what could be done to obtain compensation for the negative impact of his injuries on his ability to earn a living.

An injury can result in much more than physical and mental pain and suffering. We all tend to understand that a person unable to work while recuperating from an injury should be compensated for time off work.

But what if a person recovers somewhat from an injury but is left permanently impaired somehow? A classic example is a trucker who can no longer climb onto a trailer and secure a load because of a back injury. That limitation makes him lose the ability to get the highest paying jobs in the trucking industry. But, nonetheless can do light-duty work that pays only 75% as much as the job he could do before he was hurt. This type of injury is compensable, but how do we prove the lifetime impact of only being able to earn money at a reduced rate?

This is where it will help to call a vocational rehabilitation expert to testify about how a plaintiff’s injuries have affected their employability.

The vocational rehabilitation expert relies upon the opinions of medical doctors and therapists about the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s disabilities and the prognosis for recovery. This information and a vocational expert’s own tests will permit the vocational expert to arrive at an opinion regarding the person’s pre-injury and post-injury earning capacity.

The vocational rehabilitation expert’s opinion then serves as the basis for calculating the value of lost earning capacity. To do this, the expert will compare the plaintiff’s vocational interests to job types compatible with those interests. Next, they will determine whether the plaintiff possesses the necessary intellectual and physical aptitudes to perform those jobs.

The vocational expert will also analyze whether the plaintiff’s injuries will shorten or impair their work life. The opinion may also consider whether a worker with an impairment will likely experience job discrimination.

Other damage elements that should be evaluated by a vocational expert include the impact on:

  • Loss of fringe benefits
  • Social Security benefits
  • Pension plan benefits
  • Medical insurance, life insurance, and death benefits
  • Profit sharing plans
  • Business profits
  • Commissions
  • Loss of job opportunity
  • Impaired business productivity

A vocational rehabilitation expert likely will be an essential witness whenever there is a significant effect on the plaintiff’s lifetime earnings.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”