Demonstrating Lost Earnings: Algebraic vs. Spreadsheet Method

Tinari, Frank D.  2016.  “Demonstrating Lost Earnings: Algebraic vs. Spreadsheet Method.” The Earnings Analyst, 15:  21-32.


Economic damages experts use computerized spreadsheets to make their calculations of lost income or financial support in civil tort cases.  However, spreadsheets can be lengthy, and often are not clearly understood by the average juror.  But spreadsheets are not the only way of demonstrating an economist’s calculations.  The “best” method, if there is such a thing, effectively communicates with the readers of one’s report and, ultimately, if the case should go to trial, with jurors.  Another way to express mathematical relationships is in algebraic form.  This approach may not be widely used or understood, so the purpose of this article is to explain and contrast the algebraic method with the standard spreadsheet format.  The algebraic method is a different, perhaps superior, means of effectively communicating with a jury.  Notably, it does not require experts to give up their spreadsheets.  Rather, by introducing arithmetic relationships as a preceding step, the resulting spreadsheet becomes much simpler, gaining substantial clarity in the process.


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