The Importance of Live Research in Life Care Plans in Personal Injury Cases
A Life Care Plan documents the cost of long term medical care for Plaintiffs that have sustained Catastrophic or Chronic injuries. These costs are testified in front of a jury to educate and illustrate the future costs that the Plaintiff will sustain due to their injuries.
In the 1982 publication Damages in Tort Actions, Volumes 9, 10, & 11, Dr. Paul Deutsch proposed the use of formalized, systematized, and organized Life Care Plans as an approach to case management which could be utilized in Personal Injury cases to document the future costs required in cases where plaintiffs sustained severe injuries.
This format provides an organized, standardized, consistent, time-efficient, and comprehensive method for providing the framework to document the necessary services required in catastrophic injuries.
One of the most important features of a Life Care Plan is the cost of each item in the plan. Tradition and methodology dictates that each item’s cost is researched in the local geographical area where the injured person resides. The Life Care Plan research procedure consists of calling between three to five vendors of service, with each contact being documented and recorded. The results of the Life Care Cost research are entered into the Life Care Plan charts and totaled by an economist.
However, the increase of Life Care Planners has led many to short-circuit the process by performing no “live” research and obtaining the costs from national fee survey books published by the insurance industry. Such research takes less time than “live” research, but results in artificially reduced fees for each item in the Life Care Plan. These inaccurate costs are not geographically specific, leading a person to believe that the cost of an orthopedist in New York City is the same as in Portland, Maine or San Antonio, Texas.
Of course, when cross examined as to the rate of the Plaintiff’s treating physician, the Life Care Planner who does no “live” research has no answer.
The OAS Life Care Planner performs live research on every case. This information is documented and placed in the trial notebook so that all the fees contained in the Life Care Plan have backup data.
OAS is a Nationwide Vocational Expert service with offices in NJ, NY, FL, TX, CT, and CA. To see how the OAS Vocational Experts can assist you in creating a Life Care Plan in your next personal injury case, consult www.oasinc.org or call 800-292-1919 for professional qualifications, fee schedule, and a sample report.