The education and career prospects of child abuse victims are frequently compromised by factors which include psychiatric injury. Typically, in personal injury matters, the assessing psychiatrist refers to the baseline pre-injury employment. Loss of earning capacity is based on disruption of employment and the enduring impact of symptoms.
How should loss of earning capacity be estimated in a person who has been mentally ill from adolescence or early adulthood?
In the context of early disruption of education and early psychiatric injury, there is no pre-injury employment baseline. We need to estimate what the claimant would have achieved if not for the psychiatric injury. Assuming that the claimant is cognitively intact, it seems appropriate to assume that he/she would have attained a level of education similar to siblings and a similar level of employability to siblings. If there is no such information available, we would predict what would have been achieved based on intellect and an estimate of the claimant’s ability to learn. Other factors that might be considered include parental work history and support for education, pre-injury interpersonal functioning and motivation during the claimant’s limited schooling.