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The Significance of Being Paid “Under the Table” in Personal Injury Cases


One of the elements of damages in a personal injury or wrongful death case is loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity. This is usually proved by a history of earnings, and education and training that would give a jury reasonable basis on which to analyze and project loss of earnings.

When somebody is paid “under the table”, many times they do not give appropriate attention to their responsibilities under the law to pay taxes and to account for all of their earnings. This can be devastating in a personal injury case. How, you ask?

First of all, a judge may completely exclude the loss of earnings claim based on the fact that there is no documentation as to the losses. Being paid “under the table” usually means being paid in cash; and neither the employer, nor the employer usually wants this recorded somewhere. It would give rise to too many liabilities and claims of illegal activity with attached fines, penalties, interest and payments. But judges don’t like the fact that people are trying to avoid paying taxes and meeting their responsibilities, yet want to claim the benefit of a damages award in a lawsuit.

Even if the judge permits the claim to go forward, credibility of the injured worker is brought front and center and becomes very fragile under the withering attack of a good defense attorney pointing out that the plaintiff has continually lied to the government and caused all the rest of our good citizens to pay taxes, including making up for the plaintiff’s failure to pay those same taxes.

Sometimes there are ways to avoid this drastic treatment of loss of earnings. It is best to analyze your position with good competent legal advice. We at Heiting & Irwin would be happy to answer any questions you might have in this, or any other regard, regarding any personal injury wrongful death case.

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