For individuals with a job but on vacation, sick leave, or other absence, the forensic accountant takes those factors into consideration when projecting the expected earnings. However, in a number of situations, the plaintiff may not have been working when the event took place; the plaintiff may not have any work history or any recent work history. The following lists a few of those circumstances:
- very young, no work experience at all, still a student;
- young, still a student, but some work experience and career choice based on type of education or training program;
- discouraged worker;
- homemaker, primary activity is work at home;
- older individual who is retired and no longer works in the labor market; and
- individual who is too ill, or too physically or mentally handicapped.
A reasonable approach in such cases is to first determine if the earnings capacity or expected earnings standard is applicable. If the individual is young, the forensic accountant may work with a vocational expert to estimate earnings capacity based on education levels and career choice. Data on earnings by age and education level from the Bureau of the Census are then used to construct a projected earnings profile over the work-life and economic damages derived from comparisons made between lifetime earnings capacity with and without the event. Expected earnings computations are similar but more complex because of the need to adjust for gaps over the expected work-life in time spent working in the labor market.