As you know, we are personal injury attorneys, and our job and our goal is to secure financial compensation for the wrongly injured and harmed. A big part of that process is determining all of the expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury, and this includes all the expenses you will incur for that injury for the rest of your life.
So when we saw this article in Trial magazine, which talks specifically about the cost of care associated with childhood injuries, we know it was something worth analyzing. In most cases, a serious childhood injury will require considerably more care (and planning), because their injuries tend to compound over time. Once the case is over, you cannot go back and ask for more for your child (or yourself), which is why it is so important you and your attorney get it right the first time.
So, let’s start with the basics.
What is future care planning?
Future care plans, also called life care plans, help determine the ongoing and future medical care costs for an injured individual. This can help the individual secure the best possible care now and for the rest of their life without the worry that they will run out of money for their medical expenses.
What should a life care plan include?
A life care plan’s details will depend on the particular patient, their age and overall health, the nature of their injury, and other factors. For example, the life care plan for an injured child will likely be much more detailed than one for an older individual, as a child has many needs and decades left to live. However, in general, a future care plan should include things like the following, if necessary:
|· Medical expenses
· Lost educational and earning capacity
· Medical supplies and prescription medication
· Medical equipment and/or prosthetics
· Modifications (and maintenance) to home and vehicle
· Daily living expenses
|· Transportation needs
· Physical/occupational rehabilitation
· Mental health treatment
· Short- or long-term nursing care
· Projected life expectancy of the patient
· Assisted living facilities
When should I consider a future care plan?
If you or your loved one experienced permanent or catastrophic injuries in your accident, you must strongly consider a future care plan in your personal injury claim. (If the person who is injured is your child, however, then you almost certainly do need a future care plan.) Your future plan can help financially and appropriately handle the aftermath of your injuries. Minor injuries may heal up in a matter of weeks or months. However, serious injuries can disrupt your life for longer than you may expect, and it is important you have the resources to take care of yourself and your family.
Your Huntsville personal injury lawyer can advise you as to whether a life care plan is appropriate for you or your loved one’s case.
How do attorneys calculate life care expenses?
There is no real way to put a value on a human life or on the human experience. However, the goal of any personal injury claim is to put the victim, or plaintiff, as close to “whole” again as possible. This means keeping them healthy and comfortable with the best possible quality of life. To demonstrate future care expenses and put together a life care plan for your claim, attorneys employ a variety of methods, including reviewing your medical records and collecting opinions from parties like:
- Your doctors and therapists
- Your family, friends, and co-workers
- Medical equipment and supply vendors
- Vocational experts
- Home contractors
- Other expert witnesses
Your case may also benefit from the help of a life care planning expert, and our attorneys have access to many of these skilled professionals. Calculating a future care plan is not as easy as it might sound on the surface, as it involves taking into account adjusting for inflation, and then discounting back to adjust for current value.
A life care planner is an expert for a reason. Often, opposing counsel (attorneys for the party who caused your injury) will push back against the amount of compensation to which you are truly entitled. A life care or future care planner provides a wealth of extensive documentation and proof demonstrating this medical treatment and resources are necessary to make you whole again. Your lawyer works in tandem with a life care planner to ensure all your needs are handled, now and for the rest of your life.
If this sounds confusing, it is – and that is why we always recommend consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting any type of settlement from the insurance party or opposing counsel. As we mentioned earlier, once you receive compensation for your injury and losses, the law prevents you from going back and suing for more. This is why it is crucial to take all of your injuries – including any potential future complications – into account.
The attorneys at Martin & Helms can help after a serious or catastrophic injury. We will work to ensure you or your loved one have a strong future care plan set in place, along with the resources to fund it. To find out how our Huntsville and Decatur personal injury lawyers can help you today, call our offices or fill out our contact form today. We also serve clients and families throughout North Alabama.