OAS Group - February/March 2020

February/March 2020

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The Life Care Plan Documenting Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases

The cost of future care makes up a significant portion of a catastrophic injury case. It details the damages in medical malpractice, product liability, and motor vehicle accident cases that have resulted in catastrophic injuries. An attorney should use a life care plan for three reasons: To determine the worth of the case, to move the case toward settlement by justifying the amount of the demand, and to provide the attorney with a tool for trial. The life care plan enables the attorney to document and present the damages of the case to the jury in a clear, demonstrative manner.

Most attorneys know when they have a client with a serious injury. The client has sustained a spinal cord injury and cannot move his or her legs and/or arms. The seriously injured person may have sustained amputation of one, some, or all of their extremities. A baby may be severely brain damaged, resulting in impaired mental capability, or have cerebral palsy. An adolescent may have sustained a head injury, resulting in severe cognitive deficits and physical limitations. What are the consequences of these multifaceted catastrophic injuries on the client’s ability to function? How will these injuries affect the client’s educational and vocational development? Can the client ever be competitively employed? If so, what will it cost to prepare the client for that event? How much will their medical care and therapies cost? What is the cost to renovate the client’s home, if necessary? What is the cost for required nursing services?

Retention of a rehabilitation expert precedes that of an economist, as the economist formulates economic projections based on the costs developed in the life care plan.

The development of the life care plan begins with a comprehensive review of all medical records. Together with interviewing the client and their family, an extensive home assessment is made. During this evaluation, the rehabilitation expert performs a home-care and equipment assessment and evaluates the client’s vocational and educational potential. In addition, meetings may be held with the client’s treating physicians, therapists, and educational and/or institution staff.

All of these questions should be considered when the attorney takes a catastrophic injury case, as the costs of these items make up the damages portion of the case.

One of the most important experts to consult in documenting your damages in these cases is a rehabilitation expert. These experts will assist in illustrating the extent and dollar amount of the damages in your case through the preparation of a life care plan.

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