Yesterday, a construction worker on a job site in Massachusetts suffered what was called an “open, crushing injury” to his forearm when materials which was being unloaded from a flatbed truck fell on top of him.The story about this construction accident got me thinking about the economic impact of this accident on this injured construction worker. This man was injured seriously, but fortunately for him was not involved in a wrongful death accident. However, he has suffered an injury which will have some significant long term impacts on his ability to work in the future. When someone is injured in an on the job accident which results in a third party liability suit for a construction accident, one of the elements of damages that can be claimed is past and future wage loss. Obviously, this man will be able to claim lost wages for all of the time that he is off work, even if he is getting Illinois worker’s compensation benefits. However, the more significant part of his case is the future wage loss claim.Many people working in the construction trades in Illinois are union workers, which means that they are paid a good wage and benefit package. After suffering a permanent injury which results in work restrictions, may injured construction workers cannot return to the construction trades and have to find work in other fields. Unfortunately many have a hard time finding a job which pays the same kind of wage and benefit package. That differential is part of the future wage loss claim.For example, the news story indicated that the man was 47 years old. Being very conservative, let’s assume that his work life expectancy was 15 years, or that he would have worked until age 62. Let’s also assume that the spends the next 3 years recovering from his injuries. Most construction workers do not work a full year, but carpenters tend to do better than most, so let’s assume that he works 1800 hours per year (or 45 weeks a year at 40 hours per week). Let’s also assume that he has a wage and benefit package amounting to $25 per hour. This means that for each year he is off work, he has a wage loss claim of $45,000 per year (45 weeks x 40 hours per week x $25 per hour). That means for 3 years off work, there is a past wage loss claim of $135,000.Let’s also assume that after spending 3 years recovering from his injuries, he cannot go back to construction, but instead finds a job where his wage and benefit package is $13 per hour. The work is more steady, and he is working 2,000 per year or 50 weeks per year. The next step is to compute the differential which will equal his future wage loss claim.The differential is the amount that he would have earned working that much minus what he actually did earn. Based on 12 years of lost work at 2000 hours per year, the amount that he could have earned was $600,000 (12 years x 2000 hours per year x $25 per hour). However, he is only going to make $312,000 over that same time frame. That results in a differential, and a future wage loss claim, of $288,000.As an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer, I know how significant a permanent work restriction can be for an injured construction worker. Among the things that we do for our clients who have suffered career-ending injuries is to document their work history, show their earning potential, their difficulties in securing proper substitute employment, and retaining an expert economist to present the numbers to a jury in a cogent way.It’s a lot work, but it is worth it for our clients who deserve every penny of that differential.