California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3903C. Past and Future Lost Earnings (Economic Damage)

[Insert number, e.g., "3."] [Past] [and] [future] lost earnings.

[To recover damages for past lost earnings, [name of plaintiff] must prove the amount of [insert one or more of the following: income/earnings/salary/wages] that [he/she] has lost to date.]

[To recover damages for future lost earnings, [name of plaintiff] must prove the amount of [insert one or more of the following: income/earnings/salary/wages] [he/she] will be reasonably certain to lose in the future as a result of the injury.]

Directions for Use

This instruction is not intended for use in employment cases.

Sources and Authority

"We know of no rule of law that requires that a plaintiff establish the amount of his actual earnings at the time of the injury in order to obtain recovery for loss of wages although, obviously, the amount of such earnings would be helpful to the jury in particular situations." (Rodriguez v. McDonnell Douglas Corp. (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 626, 656 [151 Cal.Rptr. 399].)

" 'To entitle a plaintiff to recover present damages for apprehended future consequences, there must be evidence to show such a degree of probability of their occurring as amounts to a reasonable certainty that they will result from the original injury.' " (Bellman v. San Francisco High School Dist. (1938) 11 Cal.2d 576, 588 [81 P.2d 894], internal citation omitted.)

The Supreme Court has stated: " 'Under the prevailing American rule, a tort victim suing for damages for permanent injuries is permitted to base his recovery "on his prospective earnings for the balance of his life expectancy at the time of his injury undiminished by any shortening of that expectancy as a result of the injury." ' " (Fein v. Permanente Medical Group (1985) 38 Cal.3d 137, 153 [211 Cal.Rptr. 368, 695 P.2d 665], internal citations omitted.)

"[T]he majority view is that no deduction is made for the injured party's expected living expenses during the lost years." (Overly v.

Ingalls Shipbuilding, Inc. (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 164, 171 [87 Cal.Rptr.2d 626], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, §§ 1404-1405

4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 52, Medical Expenses and Economic Loss, §§ 52.10-52.11 (Matthew Bender)

California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar 1988) Bodily Injury, §§ 1.39-1.41

15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages (Matthew Bender)

6 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 65, Damages (Matthew Bender)

1 Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice (1992) Torts, § 5:15

(New September 2003)