It’s not enough to assert damages. Establishing the extent of your client’s long-term medical costs and diminished earning capacity is critical to a successful settlement or jury verdict. At Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) we use powerful tools to help you – a life care plan and an employability assessment.
In this article, we will cover some of the basics regarding what a life care plan is, and how it works with an employability assessment to maximize the compensation to your personal injury client. To illustrate how these work to help obtain optimal damages for your client, we’ll start with a case study.
A Minor Traffic Infraction that Led to a Life-Changing Event
Raoul Lopez, a Bronx man, rolled through a stop sign. Police stopped him. While he remained sitting in the car, the police ordered him to grab a package in the vehicle and hand it over. Mr. Lopez picked up the package, but then accidentally dropped it. When he bent over to pick it up, the police shot him in the neck.
Tragically, one of the bullets became lodged in his neck. Mr. Lopez initially suffered extensive paralysis and was a quadriplegic. With time, he regained some movement, but he was still unable to move his right arm.
Fortunately, the experts at OAS got involved in Mr. Lopez’s case. The experts at OAS prepared a life care plan and employability assessment. Presented with this information and other evidence, the jury took less than one hour to award Mr. Lopez $11 million in damages at the end of the case.
The Basics On Life Care Plans
A life care plan is the evaluation of a plaintiff’s injuries resulting in a comprehensive plan that includes future medical needs and associated costs.
In an evaluation, a life care planner will analyze the following factors:
1. Type and severity of the injury. This establishes a baseline for future medical needs. For example, the framework for a person with the loss of a foot will be different from that of a person with traumatic brain injury.
2. Equipment needs. Durable medical equipment is expensive, and many plans underestimate these costs. Someone in a wheelchair may gain weight with time, necessitating a new wheelchair. It’s also critical to determine the frequency with which such equipment will need to be replaced. To obtain better information on this, the life care planner looks at vendor pricing to compare costs, warranties, and other relevant information.
3. Home care requirements. How severe is the person’s needs? Will they be able to stay at home with occasional outside help or will placement in a residential care facility be necessary? If the person stays at home, what structural modifications will be needed to be made for mobility throughout the house? Major changes may be needed in the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. The life care planner consults local contractors and real estate agencies to get pricing data on these types of remodelings.
4. Transportation. Going to and from medical appointments and running other everyday errands requires transporting the plaintiff. Depending on the seriousness of the person’s injury, this may require extensive modification to an existing vehicle or the purchase of a new customized vehicle.
5. Age progression. How does time impact the person? For some injuries, like the loss of a foot, little is forecasted to change. For traumatic brain injuries, however, suffering this earlier in life can lead to premature effects on the brain and cause dementia and other mental conditions as the person ages.
6. Other needs of the injured person. Family life is also a consideration. Does the plaintiff live alone or do they have a spouse and three young children? In other words, if there are other people living with the injured person, can they help care for the injured one, or before injury, did the person care for them?
All of these considerations go into the comprehensive life care plan.
Details about Employability Assessments
The next step is an employability assessment. This provides information about a person’s functional capacity, existing work abilities and knowledge, and readiness for employment.
An experienced expert will research the following questions if your client is contemplating returning to their same job:
1. Is there a possibility of the injured person returning to their job in the near future?
2. Are they able to perform all the necessary duties for the position?
3. If overtime is usually available, do their injuries prevent or limit this?
Often, however, injuries will prevent the victim from returning to their pre-injury occupation. Then the relevant questions become:
1. Can the skills they learned in their old job be transferred to other jobs that don’t require as much physical exertion?
2. If there is a lack of transferrable skills, what unskilled labor are they able to perform, recognizing any physical limitations due to their injury?
3. What’s the difference in compensation between the pre-injury occupation and available unskilled labor jobs?
This information, along with labor statistics about the person’s available jobs, is used to complete the employability assessment.
Preparation for Settlement Discussions or Trial
Once the life care plan and employability assessment are completed, and a life care planning expert (like OAS) is ready to present the data and answer any anticipated questions, exhibits are prepared for the settlement discussions or trial.
These exhibits are high-quality, relevant, and compelling. They drive home the story of the victim’s injuries, future medical needs, and diminished earning capacity to the jury.
Let the Experts at OAS Provide the Information You Need to Get Appropriate Compensation for Your Personal Injury Clients
The experts at OAS have over forty years of experience preparing life care plans and employability assessments. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented.
OAS has served as experts on many multi-million-dollar outcomes including a record-setting $102 million verdict in a NY catastrophic injury case.
We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of life care plans and employability assessments for both plaintiff and defense attorneys.
OAS is your life care plan and employability assessment expert nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.