As you may have read from our previous blog articles, we have discussed the different types of monetary damages that a plaintiff can be awarded in a personal injury case, including past and future economic and non-economic damages. Past economic damages, such as past medical expenses, are typically easier to measure since the client will have medical bills from his or her prior treatment, but what about future medical expenses? How can they be measured?
You Only Get One Bite At The Apple
Of course, one of the main objectives in every personal injury case is to get the client as much compensation as possible for his or her injuries. This is especially important since there is only “one bite at the apple,” meaning plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits can’t come back to court and ask for additional compensation after the case has already been closed. Because of this, it is crucial for attorneys to carefully investigate each client’s claim upfront and use expert witnesses to add value to the claim when necessary. One type of expert that is used to add value is a life care planner. Lifecare planners typically are nurses, medical doctors, or other rehabilitative professionals that are hired by the attorney to provide a “life care plan” for a client’s future medical treatment and future costs.
What Is A Life Care Plan?
A life care plan is a comprehensive plan that details an individual’s current and future needs and the costs associated with those needs. According to the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals, some of these needs include:
- diagnostic testing
- medical and adaptive equipment
- aids for independent functioning
- prescription and nonprescription medications
- home care/facility care
- routine medical care
- architectural modifications
- potential complications
- surgical intervention
- vocational services
Why Are Life Care Plans Important?
A life care plan is important for two reasons. First, it supports the plaintiff’s claims of future expenses and makes it easier for a jury to understand future expenses at trial. Second, it can add value to future non-economic damages by showing that the plaintiff will continue to endure pain and suffering (and other non-economic damages) with continued medical treatment, surgeries, etc.
How Are Life Care Plans Created?
There are many ways a life care planner can gather information to develop a life care plan. This may include reviewing medical records/bills and supporting documents (depositions, videos, pictures, employment records, tax returns, etc.), interviewing the client and family members, consulting with treating providers and/or other experts involved in the case, and determining which future treatment is needed and researching costs for treatment.
Do I Need A Life Care Plan?
Like most questions in the legal world, there is not one clear-cut answer that applies in all cases. Whether you need a life care plan or not depends on the unique facts of the case, the extent of the client’s injuries, and the need for future treatment/future accommodations. Lifecare plans can be expensive and may not be needed (or be cost-effective) in every case. However, in cases involving catastrophic injuries or extensive future treatment/future accommodations, life care planners can add immense value to your case.
If you have been injured and are looking to consult with an attorney, please contact us!