Ultimately, the goal of most every personal injury and medical malpractice case is to obtain compensation for a person who has been injured. New York law recognizes several categories of damages in these cases, which include, but are not limited to, pain and suffering, lost earnings and earnings capacity, and medical expenses. In personal injury and medical malpractice cases involving very serious injuries – those which leave an injured victim with a lifetime need for ongoing medical care and treatment – the cost of future medical care is often the largest item of damages for which the injured person can receive compensation.
To establish the future medical expenses of an injured party, a “life care plan” is developed. A life care plan is an analysis of the future medical needs of an injured person which describes the appropriate and necessary future treatment and its costs. Life care plans are sought by the courts in cases where there has been catastrophic injury so that judges and juries have a clear understanding of the long-term economic costs of caring for the patient. Life care planners work with doctors and other health care professionals to create a life care plan, which is unique to each individual case. The life care planner will explain the reasonable costs of each item of required future medical treatment, and will justify the need based upon the injured victim’s medical history and the expert’s knowledge of how people with similar medical problems to those of the plaintiff are typically treated. The report will then be presented to the defendants, and the life care planner will testify as to its contents at trial if the case goes before a jury.
As forensic accountants, we provide objective financial analysis, calculations and guidance to support both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases. In regard to life care plans, our role in the process is the review and analysis of the estimated medical costs, projecting those costs into the future inclusive of inflation, and discounting the costs for present value. One of the key components of projecting future medical costs is determining the life expectancy of an individual. This involves a careful examination of individual attributes and behaviors, along with life tables and risk factors. Given that many personal injury awards are intended to cover certain financial and medical needs for the remainder of a plaintiff’s life, accuracy of life expectancy estimates for an individual may be especially important when calculating life expectancy for life care plans, especially for those plaintiffs with pre-existing conditions. We rely on the current U.S. Life Tables published by the CDC, and reduced life expectancy estimates for an individual provided by a life care planner or life expectancy expert.
If you would like to discuss a case or have a question, please feel free to contact FAZ Partner Charles Amodio at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him directly at 518-288-2142.