Imploding the House of Damages in Personal Injury Cases – Using Only an Economist and Not a Vocational Expert!

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Many personal injury attorneys do not realize how important it is to properly build the house of damages in a personal injury case. They must lay a proper foundation with a comprehensive medical report that documents the Plaintiff’s injuries. Preferably, the physician will discuss the individual’s residual functional capacity and talk about permanency.

Once the medical foundation has been laid, a vocational expert should be retained. The vocational expert‘s report should classify the Plaintiff’s past work and earnings and discuss their transferable skills if any, and the effect the Plaintiff’s injuries will have on their ability to work and earn money. The vocational expert should formulate an opinion within a reasonable degree of certainty as to the plaintiff’s pre and post-injury earning capacity. This is the frame of the house.

Lastly, the forensic economist should take the vocational expert’s conclusions and formulate the projected loss of earnings of the Plaintiff. Each expert should build their opinion on the preceding expert’s work, incorporating their findings. The economist is the roof of the house as they are the last of the three required experts to build the house of damages.

As a vocational expert, I shudder when I see an economic report without the proper medical or vocational evaluation foundation. I am puzzled why a well-credentialed economist would partake of an evaluation without consulting with the referring attorney to obtain the proper foundation so they can write their economic report.

Economists are not vocational experts and cannot discuss a return to work options. They are not knowledgeable about medical information. They do not know occupations and employability. They may know and understand wages. A good economist will tell the referring personal injury attorney, “You need a Vocational Expert before I can write my report. I need the foundation they provide.”

Why is this necessary? A good vocational expert on the other side, usually defense, will look at an economic report without the proper foundation and say, “There is no vocational foundation for the economist’s report. Let me knock down their house of damages!”

Occupational Assessment Services has been involved as Vocational Experts in some of the largest verdicts in the United States, including Escobar vs. the State of New Jersey which received a verdict of $166,000,000, and Verni vs. Aramark which received a $105,000,000 verdict. Without the use of the OAS Vocational Expert Services, these large verdicts may not have been achieved.

OAS is a Nationwide Vocational Expert service with offices in NJ, NY, FL, TX, CT, and CA. To see how the OAS Vocational Expert/Life Care Plans can assist you in documenting the damages in your Personal Injury cases consult, or call 800-292-1919 for a proposal containing the experts’ professional qualifications, fee schedule, and a sample life care plan report.