Some accidents result in permanent injuries that will require ongoing care for the rest of the victim’s life. The victim is entitled to be compensated for the cost of the future care now. That’s because once the lawsuit is resolved, he cannot return to the wrongdoer and ask for additional compensation. The cost of the victim’s future care is part of compensatory damages.
To prove what sum of money, paid today, will adequately cover the expenses the victim is likely to incur in the future, the victim’s attorney must enlist the help of several experts:
- The victim’s current doctor or other medical expert to testify about the victim’s injuries. The doctor will testify about the victim’s current medical condition and the medical services he needs including therapy, equipment, transportation, and so on;
- A doctor or nurse case manager specializing in physical rehabilitation medicine to review current medical records and interview the victim and current caregivers. When this expert is done with her work, she will create a "life care plan" which will itemize the medical services that the victim will need for the duration of his life; and
- An economist to calculate the total costs of the future medical care set forth in the life care plan. In determining the sum that needs to be paid to the victim today to ensure that his medical needs are met into the future, the economist will account for the inflation rate of medical goods and services, and reasonable rates of return on invested funds.
To properly gather the evidence and to work effectively with qualified experts, the victim’s attorneys must have a keen understanding of their client’s injuries. Without that understanding, there can be no assurance that amounts awarded the victim for future care will be adequate.