The Three Parts of Damages – Building the House

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The presentation of damages in a personal injury case is a three-part process. The process is similar to building a house: there needs to be a foundation, a framework, and a roof.


The foundation for damages is laid by the physician, who will discuss the case with regard to the client’s impairment and functional capacity.


The framework is constructed by the vocational expert, who discusses the effect of the impairment on the client’s ability to work and earn money. The expert will answer such questions as:

– Can the individual go back to his/her prior work?

– Can the client perform the full range of this work?

– Has the injury affected the client’s ability to avail him of overtime opportunities?

– If the client cannot return to his pre-injury occupation, can the skills previously learned or education obtained be transferred to other types of jobs requiring less physical demands?

– If there are no transferable skills, what unskilled work can be performed and at what exertion level?

– What do the jobs the client can perform pay?

– Is there any work that the client can perform, given his physical and/or psychological limitations?


The roof is built by the economist, who uses the information provided by the vocational expert and projects the wage data. This will provide the figure for future loss of earning capacity.

The use of a vocational expert is an important part of developing the damages in a case. Occupational Assessment Services (OAS) can bring experience and expertise to a case only available through an experienced vocational expert. Contact OAS at (973) 365-2227 so we can evaluate and discuss your personal injury case.