Jones Act Lawyer Showed Reasons For $227,000 Past And Future Lost Wages Award As Reasonable And Fair

DECEMBER 27, 2011 by Ogletree Abbott

Court Agreed With Jones Act Lawyer To Uphold Award Even If “Slightly” On “High Side”

A Jones Act lawyer gets to the bottom of proving what an injury costs, in terms of lost wages and other damages. In the following case, a vessel owner tried to overturn a Jones Act lawyer’s winning an award for lost wages…even after a court noted the award was “on the high side.” Specifically, a vessel owner argued over the amount of past lost wages and lost future earning capacity, awarded to an injured seaman, after a judge agreed with the wage calculations of the seaman’s Jones Act lawyer. The Jones Act lawyer had introduced what the judge called “solid and strong” evidence from a recognized PhD economist.

The Jones Act lawyer argued successfully for a large award, while agreeing the seaman “bears the burden of proving” lost earnings, as well as showing the time missed from work. But the jury also has a lot of discretion, the Jones Act lawyer accurately stated, in calculating awards for lost wages, observed the Jones Act lawyer….so long as, the Jones Act lawyer noted, there “was a factual basis for the award.”

Jones Act Lawyer Showed Loss Of Overtime, Health Benefits And Future Wages

The Jones Act lawyer showed that at the time of his accident, Harry Donaldson had been working as a deckhand. He had just satisfied his probationary period, and had even received a large pay raise, as well as becoming eligible for employee benefits, the Jones Act lawyer established. The seaman’s work schedule was 12 days on and 6 days off, and that gave him “lots of overtime pay,” he told his Jones Act lawyer. The Jones Act lawyer also showed that Donaldson had not been able to work a full day since the accident.

The orthopedic surgeon’s records were introduced by the Jones Act lawyer to prove a 10-15% permanent impairment to Donaldson’s lumbar and cervical spine. There were also, emphasized the Jones Act lawyer, work restrictions, including minimal stooping and bending, minimal prolonged standing or sitting and no repetitive lifting, with any work above shoulder level. According to a vocational rehab evaluation used by the Jones Act lawyer, Donaldson had an eighth-grade education, but was at a lower level on academic skills. The Jones Act lawyer showed Donaldson was “totally medically and vocationally disabled from returning to any previous occupation.” The Jones Act lawyer suggested Donaldson’s future earning capacity ranged from a total loss of earning to (perhaps) part time work at minimum wage.

The Jones Act lawyer used an economist (with a Ph.D.) to figure Donaldson’s pre-accident income, i.e., $29,200 per year. The Jones Act lawyer proved that lost past wages would have been $44,378. From that date, the economist’s evidence (established by the Jones Act lawyer) carried the annual income figure forward for each year of Donaldson’s expected work-life, and after applying what the Jones Act lawyer showed was a “conservative discount rate,” concluded a total value of future losses at $220,000.

Jury Actually Added Slightly More To Requested Award Of Jones Act Lawyer

The jury had strong evidence from the Jones Act lawyer, for a range of awards, and chose to award the higher figures, noted the Jones Act lawyer: $44,700 for past loss of income and $125,000 for loss of future earning capacity. The jury awarded Donaldson $200,000 for past physical and mental pain and suffering and $25,000 for loss of enjoyment. After the accident, emphasized the Jones Act lawyer, the seaman began complaining of neck pain and severe lower back pain. At that point, he told his Jones Act lawyer, “I could not even bend over.” Next, the Jones Act lawyer showed the jury that the seaman began taking pain medications and trying stretching exercises. But after reviewing X-rays, the Jones Act lawyer also showed the jury that Donaldson had a herniated disc and needed surgery.

Emphasizing the jury’s discretion in awarding damages, the Jones Act lawyer succeeded in defending the total award. Although the total award ($227,000) in general damages was (as the appeals court put it) “on the high side” of estimates by the Jones Act lawyer, it was not an abuse of discretion for such a disabling back injury, the Jones Act lawyer had shown. The Jones Act lawyer had wisely proven how Donaldson was in pain for at least 18 months after his accident, and much of that time, the pain was severe and he was (as proven by the Jones Act lawyer) understandably, extremely depressed. After over a year of ineffective treatment, he had a surgical procedure to correct his back condition. While this greatly relieved his pain, he was still permanently disabled and will always have to restrict his daily activities, emphasized the Jones Act lawyer.

When an accident occurs, a seaman sometimes waits before getting legal advice from a Jones Act lawyer. But as this case showed, there’s an immediate need for the best in medical care, as well as getting the help of an experienced Jones Act lawyer. Because seeking medical care affects eventual legal claims, such as lost wages, a seaman befits from an early, confidential meeting with a Jones Act lawyer.

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