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The Role of the Life Care Plan in a Serious Personal Injury Case

Obtaining a recovery in any serious personal injury case requires the identification and assessment of current damages, including medical expenses and lost wages, as well as future damages, such as future medical expenses and diminished earning capacity. Estimating and projecting these future costs often requires the use of expert witnesses who can testify as to how these damages are measured and calculated.

In the case of a catastrophic injury such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or amputation, the present and future costs associated with the injury are numerous and often extend throughout the person’s lifetime. In these cases, it is often helpful to develop a Life Care Plan. A Life Care Plan is a comprehensive document that looks at every aspect of the person’s needs as an outcome of the injury, and develops a detailed estimate of every cost.

For instance, the Life Care Plan will estimate the costs of housing, whether the individual needs assisted living in a nursing facility, home health care, or a full-time caregiver. The Plan will assess healthcare costs including medications, rehabilitation, future doctor visits and therapies, and future procedures that are likely to be needed depending upon the type of disability. Issues of transportation and mobility are discussed, from wheelchairs to vans to housing modifications for accessibility. The individuals’ vocational needs will also be covered, documenting the person’s employability and earning capacity, needs for vocational rehabilitation, and any assistive technology or workplace accommodations that may be needed to help the individual seek or maintain meaningful employment.

Several universities offer programs to certify registered nurses and other medical professionals as life care planners. Board certification may come from organizations such as the Certified Nurse Life Care Planner Certification Board or the International Commission on Health Care Certification. In addition to certified life care planners, other professionals who may be qualified to prepare or contribute to a life care plan include doctors and registered nurses, occupational therapists, life care managers or geriatric care managers, rehabilitation and vocational counselors, and economists experienced in analyzing and assessing personal injury damages.

The Life Care Planner may be called as an expert witness to testify at trial, and the Life Care Plan itself may be introduced as evidence to the jury or used as a valuable tool in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Beyond helping obtain a maximum recovery, the Life Care Plan is also an essential tool for the injured person throughout life, serving as a roadmap and guidebook, helping the person know what to expect and what resources are available to deal with crises or challenges as they arise.

If you have been seriously injured in a catastrophic accident, you need and deserve to be compensated for all the additional costs and burdens which were placed upon by another person’s negligence or wrongful conduct. In New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. to discuss your claim, and whether a Life Care Plan should be developed in your case.