Four Types of Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case: Using a Vocational Expert/Life Care Planner!

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Many personal injury attorneys do not realize how a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert can assist them in fully establishing the damages in a personal injury case in which the Plaintiff has been permanently injured. Most frequently, Vocational Experts are used by attorneys who want to assess how a Plaintiff’s injuries affect their ability to work and earn money. These hard damages are an important component in objectively determining the verdict amount.

The Employability & Earning Capacity Evaluation documents the loss of income a Plaintiff has sustained resulting from a permanent injury. The evaluation consists of four parts: medical, employment, and income record review, vocational diagnostic interview, vocational testing, and transferability skills analysis. Using the RAPEL methodology, Vocational Experts can determine the Plaintiff’s pre and post-injury earning capacity.

This Vocational Expert will measure the loss of earnings by calculating the difference between the amount of money the injured person had the capacity to earn prior to the injury, and the amount they are capable of earning after the injury, in view of his or her work-life expectancy.

Remember, a loss of earning capacity assessment can only be done in cases of permanent disability.

A second area of documenting damages is using the Vocational Expert to establish the Plaintiff’s work-life expectancy. There are many special circumstances in personal injury cases that result in greater or less work expectancy, as noted by the widely used tables published by Krueger, Kurt V, Skoog, Gary R. and Ciecka, James E., “Worklife in a Markov Model with Full-time and Part-time Activity,” in the Journal of Forensic Economics 19 91) 2006, pp 61-82.

If the Plaintiff has a particular desire or reason to work past the usual retirement age, an Employability Evaluation is necessary. This is extremely important as if not for his/her accident, the Plaintiff would have continued to work until age 70, adding more years of work-life expectancy to the loss of earnings claim.

Single males who are healthy and enjoy their job may work until at least 70 years of age. This would increase the work-life expectancy in a case by three years. We have had cases where a healthy male working into their 70’s would have continued to work due to a significantly younger spouse.

Many times there is a failure to document an injured persons’ loss or diminution of Household Services. Household Services consist of the performance of many types of jobs, such as cleaning, yard work, cooking, and transportation. All of these home tasks correspond to occupations in the labor market. This is why a Vocational Expert who meets and tests the Plaintiff is in the best position to offer an opinion, as the loss of Household Services is based on a household diary, and comparing it to the specific tables in The Dollar Value of a Day, Time Diary Analysis, 2013 Dollar Valuation, Expectancy Date, Shawnee Mission, Kansas 2014.

Lastly, many attorneys do not realize using a Life Care Planner to document the Plaintiff’s long term medical care needs is an important component of damages. This process involves a medical record review, life care plan interview, completion of a medical LCP foundation form, activities of living assessment, local cost of medical research, and formulating the long term care costs required due to the Plaintiff’s personal injuries. The testimony of this expert involves using demonstrative evidence to show the cost of the Plaintiffs’ medical care due to their injuries.

OAS is a Nationwide Vocational Expert service with offices in New Jersey, New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and California. To see how the OAS Vocational Experts can assist you in documenting the damages in your Personal Injury cases consult or call 800-292-1919, for a proposal containing the expert’s professional qualifications, fee schedule, and a sample report.