Mistake #3 – Not Using A Life Care Plan To Document Case Damages In Catastrophic Cases

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Life Care Plans detail the many areas that impact the life of a catastrophically injured person. It begins with a review of all medical, educational, and income records. The next step is to conduct an interview with the client and his/her family. This can be done in the disabled person’s home or our office. In addition, an extensive assessment of the home and living environments are done. Finally, if necessary, interviews with the treating physicians, therapists, and educational staff may be undertaken. A detailed Life Care Recommendation Form may be completed by a physician to provide the medical foundation for the items contained in the Life Care Plan.

Based on the above information, a plan for future life care is developed. Detailed yearly costs are provided in the following areas: Home care or facility care; future medical care; transportation; architectural renovations; therapeutic evaluations and modalities; medical equipment and/or wheelchair needs; orthotics and/or prosthetics; home furnishings; leisure time and recreational equipment; drug and supply needs; and the cost of potential medical complications. Included in the plan for future life care will be a Vocational Evaluation which assesses the employability and loss of earning capacity of the Catastrophically Injured person.

The cost of each item in the Life Care Plan is researched in the geographical area where the disabled person resides. Anywhere from three to five local sources are contacted to obtain a range of costs for each item in the Plan. Research of physician and therapy costs starts with the person’s treating physicians and contacts are made with other local medical providers.

The Life Care Plan is presented in an easy-to-read chart format that details the cost of each and every service required to maintain the catastrophically impaired person to his/her maximum physical, educational, and vocational level. It is an objective method of documenting the total cost of damages in catastrophic injury cases. Lastly, a cost summary chart is completed which provides the median yearly cost of each category of the Life Care Plan and includes the total yearly and lifetime Life Care Plan costs given the catastrophically injured person’s life expectancy.

CASE ILLUSTRATION – Brain Damaged Baby

Jane Williams was deprived of oxygen at birth, resulting in brain damage, cerebral palsy, and a respiratory deficiency. Due to the severity of her problems, 24-hour nursing care was required because of her dependency on a ventilator.

A comprehensive Life Care Plan was developed and the costs of services were researched in her local area. This included a loss of earning the capacity assessment of the child based on the educational and vocational trends in her family.

After the completion of the Life Care Plan, the self-insured hospital tendered $13 million to be used in a structured settlement.

In conclusion, it is important the Life Care Planner consider all factors of the catastrophically injured person’s care throughout their lifetime. The use of a Life Care Plan establishes the damages of the case, as well as the case worth.

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 Armark which received a $105,000,000 verdict. Without the use of the OAS Life Care Plan Charts, these large verdicts may not have been achieved.

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