Regardless of the occupation or the industry, workplace accidents can occur anytime. In some cases, an employee can suffer a debilitating or even fatal injury. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 5,250 workers died from work-related injuries in the United States in 2018. In Illinois, most companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees in case they get hurt on the job. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all injuries that are caused by the employee’s work, including pre-existing conditions that are aggravated by the worker’s job. If you or your loved one was seriously injured, you may not be able to return to your previous job or salary. Consulting with a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney is essential so you understand your rights to benefits.

What Does a Reduction of Earning Capacity Mean?

Lost earning capacity refers to a decrease in an individual’s ability to earn his or her income. It is also referred to as future loss of earnings or impairment of earning power. Different from lost income or wages, which is generally a designated amount of time, lost earning capacity involves a worker’s future earning potential. Reduced earning capacity is the difference between what an employee was able to earn over the course of his or her life prior to the accident compared to the lower amount he or she is now capable of earning due to his or her injuries.

To establish a loss of earning capacity, an employee must demonstrate (with a degree of certainty) his or her earning capacity before the injury and how that capacity was diminished by the injury. This involves providing evidence of losses, which will vary based on the circumstances of the case.

For example, if a worker is paralyzed after slipping and falling at his or her job, he or she may be confined to a wheelchair now. If that employee’s job duties required standing or walking around, he or she will not be able to perform that job. In some cases, he or she may be transferred to a desk job within the same company but at a lower salary. In other instances, a person may have to obtain a job in a completely different company or field.

Typically under workers’ compensation laws, employees who have a reduction in earning capacity have the right to two-thirds of the difference between what they could make prior to the injury and what they can make after the injury.

Examples of Work Injuries That Affect Earning Capacity

Certain professions pose a higher risk of danger due to the nature of the job. For instance, a construction worker who falls from a high-rise building is more likely to suffer a devastating injury than an employee who trips and falls inside of an office building. Similarly, those workers who perform their jobs in a factory run the risk of getting caught in machinery or struck by defective parts. In many scenarios, a person’s range of motion and ability to function normally without assistance may be affected after suffering an injury. He or she may require a brace, a walker or even a wheelchair. In other cases, brain damage, disfigurement, burns, or amputations may make a worker incapable of doing job-specific tasks.

The following are a few of the common types of workplace injuries that can lead to lost earning capacity:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord/nerve damage
  • Wrist injury (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Broken arm, leg, or back
  • Shoulder damage (torn rotator cuff)
  • Severed limb
  • Third-degree burns
  • Facial fractures

Contact a DuPage County Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Suffering an injury at work can have serious consequences. A minor mishap may only cause you to miss a few days of work, but a severe injury can affect your entire career. At the accomplished Law Offices of David W. Clark, P.C., we have more than 20 years of experience in handling work-related injury cases so we understand how losing your earning capacity can affect your livelihood. Our competent Wheaton workplace injury attorneys will fight for your rights to seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages. To learn about all of your options, call our office today at 630-665-5678 to schedule a free consultation.


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David Clark

David W. Clark is the founder and owner of the Law Offices of David W. Clark, P.C., in Wheaton, Illinois. As a sole practitioner in the firm, Mr. Clark has extensive knowledge in the areas of personal injury, workers’ compensation, and limited scope…

David W. Clark is the founder and owner of the Law Offices of David W. Clark, P.C., in Wheaton, Illinois. As a sole practitioner in the firm, Mr. Clark has extensive knowledge in the areas of personal injury, workers’ compensation, and limited scope representation/pro se help. With more than 20 years of legal experience devoted to personal injury law and those who have been injured in the workplace, Mr. Clark is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in Illinois, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.