You're badly injured in a car accident. It's not your fault at all; you're stopped at the light when the pickup behind you doesn't stop -- maybe the driver is on his or her cell phone -- and rams into the back of your car.

Some of your expenses are obvious. You have to pay the medical bills. You miss time at work and lose income. However, you've also heard about lost earning capacity or lost future wages, and you're wondering how they factor in.

Life-Changing Injuries

Lost future wages are most commonly associated with life-changing injuries. Maybe you're never going to fully recover and so you'll never be able to return to your career. For example, perhaps you were working in construction, and now you can't walk without a cane. You made $50,000 per year and expected to work for 10 more years.

Clearly, the accident took something from you, economically speaking, that goes beyond the mere wages you lost while you recovered. Even when you're as healthy as you'll ever be again, your career is over. You planned to make around half a million dollars in the next decade, before retiring, and now you can't. In cases like these, you may be able to seek compensation for the future earnings that were also taken from you, on top of the other costs.

The Factors

There are many factors that determine how much compensation you can seek and if you'll win the case. They include things like your age at the time of the accident, your overall life expectancy, how long you could have realistically worked at your job, the specific occupation that you held, what skills you possess, and how those skills define your career options.

As you can see, the future wages that you lose in the wake of a crash could be a critical part of your compensation package. Make sure you know all about your legal options after the accident.