Establishing Employability: The Importance of Vocational Testing in Personal Injury Cases

January 12th, 2018

A vocational evaluation in personal injury cases usually involves a vocational interview with the plaintiff from which the vocational expert formulates their employability and earning capacity opinions.  Few vocational experts have the experience to administer vocational testing with the plaintiff, and thus, are missing an important part of the evaluation.

Unfortunately, many University Master’s Degree Rehabilitation Counseling programs are providing minimal, if any, training in performing vocational testing to their students.  The administration of vocational testing is becoming a “lost art.”

Vocational testing allows the expert to assess the plaintiff’s achievement levels, coordination, dexterity, skills, and aptitudes.  The plaintiff’s scores are compared to those of individuals working in an industry which allows the expert to make a determination as to the plaintiff’s ability to work at a competitive level, i.e. in the local labor market.

In addition, the testing portion of an employability evaluation, which takes from one to two hours, allows the expert to observe the plaintiff while he/she is performing work tasks which involve sedentary or light physical demands.  The expert is able to assess any difficulty the plaintiff has in performing these tasks, as well as any complaints they have during the evaluation.

A recent case example is Charles Walker, a 45-year-old male previously employed as a Tractor Trailer driver earning $45,000 per annum.  Mr. Walker was involved in a motor vehicle accident in 2015, resulting in a low back injury for which he eventually required a low back fusion.  Vocational testing results demonstrated that Mr. Walker had above average dexterity on the Purdue Pegboard Test, average dexterity on the VAB Manual Dexterity Test, and above average dexterity on the VAB Finger Dexterity Test.  He had WRAT-4 Reading scores of 7.5 grade equivalency and Arithmetic scores of 4.5 grade equivalency which resulted in a conclusion that Mr. Walker could not perform clerical type work.

Observations and test results indicated that Mr. Walker had the capability to perform sedentary type work such as Assembler, Packager, or Machine Operator which paid $25,000 per annum, resulting in a $20,000 per annum loss of earning capacity.  This results in a total loss of earning capacity of roughly $400,000.

Occupational Assessment Services has been involved as Vocational Expert/Life Care Planners 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 Planner/Vocational Experts’ comprehensive reports and services, these large verdicts may not have been achieved.

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