Catastrophic injury cases present unique legal challenges, one of which has to do with estimating the value of the claims. The costs of medical care and other injury-related losses often run in the millions in California. If you don’t calculate your damages properly, you risk leaving thousands, if not tens of thousands, on the table.
This is where life care planners come in. These medical professionals assist lawyers, plaintiffs, and the courts by preparing comprehensive cost reports. Read on to learn about life care planning in catastrophic injury cases and how a life care plan can benefit your claim.
What Is a Life Care Plan?
A life care plan is a report compiled by a medical expert — typically a nurse practitioner or a registered nurse — that describes the nature and extent of your injuries, their overall impact on your life, your current and future medical care needs, and the cost of that care.
Life care plans have many applications but are especially useful in personal injury cases. Your attorney can use a life care plan to prove your injuries and any related economic and noneconomic damages.
Preparing a life care plan is particularly important in cases involving catastrophic injuries, as they often affect multiple aspects of your daily life ranging from your ability to partake in your favorite pastimes to your long-term earning capacity and even your life expectancy. Life care planning makes it easier to document and calculate all your injury-related losses across time and estimate the full value of your claim.
A life care plan is also helpful in determining how much of your compensation must come from the at-fault party and how much can come from other sources like Medicare or workers’ compensation.
When Do You Need a Life Care Plan?
Your claim will likely benefit from a life care plan if you have suffered catastrophic injuries with life-long or life-altering consequences, such as:
- Brain injuries
- Spine and spinal cord injuries
- Back or neck injuries
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Loss of limbs
- Loss of use of internal organs
- Severe burns
- Psychiatric or psychological trauma
Overall, any injury that has a severe impact on your ability to perform your activities of daily living could use a life care plan. If you use a mobility device such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair or need home care assistance from a family member or a medical provider, you will likely require a life care plan.
Preparing a Life Care Plan in California
Different medical experts have their own process for compiling life care plans. Typically, it takes about three to four hours for a life care planner to conduct your initial evaluation interview. The preparation of the report itself takes 30-50 hours of research and four to six weeks on average.
Your life care planning expert will handle all of the research, write up the report, and work you’re your catastrophic injury attorney to gather and present all the information necessary to support your claim.
Generally, life care planning in catastrophic injury cases involves the following steps:
The life care planning expert will review all your medical records, wage information, and other injury-related documents, such as:
- Hospital records
- Operative reports
- Discharge summaries
- Medical bills
- Physician reports
- W-2 wage statements
- Income tax returns
Home Visit and Life Care Plan Interview
Next, the life care planner may visit you at your home. The purpose of the visit is to examine any home modifications that may have been necessary after your accident and assess the injuries’ impact on your activities of daily living. The expert will also interview you to better understand the extent and impact of your injuries and your care needs.
Finally, your life care planner will prepare a detailed assessment of your current and future injury-related needs, including:
- Medical care needs
- Custodial care needs
- Home health care needs
- Medical treatments and medication
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Transportation needs
To provide as detailed and accurate a conclusion as possible, your life care planner may also research the cost of required medical and other items in your geographical area.
Employability and Loss of Earning Capacity Assessment
A crucial part of your life care plan involves assessing your employability and earning capacity, both now and in the future. Catastrophic injuries don’t just impact your health — more often than not, they limit your ability to make a living or prevent you from maintaining gainful employment altogether.
To properly assess your future work prospects, your life care planner may work with a financial expert. They will be able to estimate your projected future earnings and other benefits you would have earned had you not been injured. This would enable them to calculate your damages and arrive at the full value of your claim.
The Components of a Life Care Plan
Your life care plan may have different components depending on the facts of your case and other needs. In general, some of the things that life care plans often detail, include your:
- Current and future medical needs
- Career prospects
- Projected future earning capacity
- Loss of future income
- Ability to partake in hobbies, sports, and recreation
- Ability to participate in family activities and social encounters with friends
- Ability to travel
If you believe that something should be included in your life care plan, let your attorney and life care planning expert know. They will determine whether it could support your claim.
Contact an Orange County Catastrophic Injury Attorney Today
Catastrophic injury cases are complicated and hard to evaluate. Working with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer and a life care planning expert can ensure that your claim won’t be undervalued.
At Khalil Law Group, our legal team can assist you with all aspects of your claim and support you as you seek compensation for your injuries. Call us at (714) 617-7870 to book your free consultation and learn more about life care planning in catastrophic injury cases in Orange County, CA.