An experienced personal injury attorney will work hard to ensure that all avenues for monetary recovery are thoroughly pursued when obtaining a fair settlement for an injured client. An injured person hires an attorney to protect their right to pursue past and future monetary recovery, and one way to potentially increase the amount of an economic damages award is to retain an expert witness.
Expert witnesses can dramatically strengthen a personal injury claim. This is because experts have special training and skills that allow them to evaluate an injury case and form a knowledgeable opinion about what likely occurred, even though they didn’t personally observe the accident. Expert witnesses can lay out this information in a way that is easy to understand, and have the ability to speak about how and why the accident happened, the extent of the physical and emotional injuries, and the full amount of compensation to which an injured plaintiff is entitled.
Some experts have knowledge in accident reconstruction, others focus on finance, and life planners work with personal injury plaintiffs to create a “life care plan” that helps form a basis for a settlement demand or be admitted as evidence in court. The information contained in a well-researched life plan can dramatically increase the economic damages awarded in a personal injury case.
What is a life planner?
A life planner is a qualified and credentialed vocational professional who assesses individuals with disabilities or chronic health conditions to outline their needs and create integrated plans that detail the items and services that the individual will require, along with the specific costs. Life planners frequently have diverse backgrounds in fields like nursing, case management, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, social work, psychology, and medicine.
An experienced personal injury attorney will retain a life planner with a background relevant to the injuries sustained in a particular case. For example, if the plaintiff requires continuing services related to a traumatic brain injury, a life planner with a background in rehabilitation, psychiatry, or psychology would be a solid choice.
Life planners usually meet with the plaintiff and visit their home to gather the information they need to create a comprehensive life care plan. An effective life planner will strive to help ensure that all the plaintiff’s future needs are documented. They do this by learning about the plaintiff’s lifestyle prior to the accident so that it can be compared to their post-accident existence to identify items that would improve the injured person’s quality of life. Life planners place a value on lifetime costs for lingering health issues, permanent disabilities, loss of future income, and much more to help accident victims recover monetary damages that will help them live with their injuries and rebuild their lives.
What is a life care plan?
A life care plan is a tool used to quantify an injured person’s present and continuing costs of care, such as:
- Continuing medications
- Costs of accommodations to the plaintiff’s home or vehicle
- Costs of household services that can no longer be performed by the plaintiff
- Future medical procedures, including surgery
- Home health care
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Pain management
- Physical, occupational, or vocational therapy
- Prosthetics or orthotics
- Vocational training to enter a new career field, if necessary
A life care plan is critical in circumstances where a personal injury plaintiff has suffered a catastrophic injury such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputation, or spinal cord damage. Such injuries nearly always require a need for significant future care; however, a life care plan can also be helpful for other types of injuries, including those that lead to chronic pain or lost/diminished function of a part of the body.
How much a plaintiff is awarded for future care detailed in the life care plan depends upon the plaintiff’s life expectancy, and the life care plan will typically contain a mortality table from the Social Security Administration that accounts for factors such as age, gender, and race. Life expectancy is typically calculated based on the plaintiff’s health right before the accident so that the amount awarded is not reduced on the basis of any diminished life expectancy that was caused by the accident.
How do I know if I need a life care planner?
The decision regarding whether to retain the services of a life care planner and at what point depend on the specific medical facts of the injury case. For example, if settlement negotiations have not been successful, a plan could then be prepared for presentation to the insurance company. Often times, when an insurance company is unaware of how widespread a claimant’s economic damages are, the adjuster might be unwilling or not have the authority to move their settlement offer beyond a certain dollar amount.
However, presenting a life care plan outlining the cost of a plaintiff’s future care needs may result in a reasonable settlement offer without the need for litigation. If the life care plan does result in settlement and litigation moves forward, the plan will become a key exhibit at mediation, arbitration, or trial.
A life care plan may also be introduced after litigation has begun, specifically to be used during mediation, arbitration, or trial. Under these circumstances, the plan should be provided to the insurance company, or opposing counsel, well before the hearing to allow sufficient time for it to be reviewed and additional settlement authority requested, if necessary.
The aftermath of a severe injury can be one of the most challenging events a person must endure, and there are many factors that can be difficult to manage without legal assistance. If you or a loved one were severely injured and are feeling alone, overwhelmed, and vulnerable, Kansas City Accident Attorneys will tap into our network of expert witnesses, including life planners, to strengthen your claim and work to help ensure that you receive fair compensation. To find out how we can help you and your family, call our offices or submit our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today.
Kansas City personal injury attorney James Roswold of Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys handles cases dealing with victims of personal injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, workers compensation, nursing home negligence, premises liability, product liability, car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases.