In any type of personal injury matter, particularly medical malpractice, your case is about damages. And proving damages is the best way that you can obtain compensation, or obtain compensation for your clients, that is commensurate with the extent of the injuries suffered.
In too many cases, especially those involving personal injury to children, attorneys fail to emphasize the extent of damages in terms of the ability of a person to earn a living once he or she becomes an adult. That is where you, and your client, would greatly benefit from employing the services of a Life Care Planner and Vocational Expert.
In medical malpractice cases, in particular, a vocational and life care plan expert witness is invaluable in showing the extent of damages suffered by an individual. This multi-faceted expert can prove the number of damages a person suffers in a medical malpractice case based on an inability to earn money in the future.
Medical Malpractice Cases are Special in Some Ways
With regard to most personal injury matters, a judge or jury can, most times, easily understand how the injury occurred, and what disabilities may likely result from an accident. Medical malpractice cases, however, are slightly more sophisticated.
Usually, in a medical malpractice case you are dealing with specialized medical terms, unfamiliar procedures, and lots of health jargon that is found in reports and other documents. That means that you have a lot more work to do to educate the judge and/or jury about how the injury occurred, and what the injury means for the victim going forward.
Moreover, you need to educate the jury on how severe medical injury is on that person’s life. Oftentimes, attorneys do not realize that they need the assistance of a life care planner and vocational expert to demonstrate the resulting medical malpractice damages. In that way, this expert can help you as the attorney prove:
- How the medical injury will impact your client’s ability to function.
- How the injury will impact the client’s ability to hold down a job, and the kind of job available to the client.
- How significantly will the client be able to earn a living in the future.
Indeed, the power of having a vocational expert is to be able to quantify a person’s damages, and back that up with documentation and expert testimony.
What are Some of the Metrics that Life Care Planners and Vocational Experts Use?
Life Care Planners and Vocational Experts are able to make the connection between the medical evidence proving the injury, and the economic and vocational data showing what the injury means for a person’s ability to work.
The tools that these experts use include:
- Assessment of a person’s vocational capacity.
- Analysis of current marketplace of jobs available.
- Review of jobs that can be performed based upon a person’s range of workability given the medical injury.
- Lost wages and future wages evaluation.
5.Cost of Long Term Medical Care required due to the person’s injuries.
All of those tools, then lead the life care planner and vocational expert to arrive at a “bottom line” damages figure of loss of future earning capacity.
Medical Malpractice Case Study – The Infant Patient
In one case that our organization handled, we provided expert services in the case of a two-month-old baby who suffered from dehydration due to the negligent conduct of the professionals in a New York City hospital. The baby was initially misdiagnosed with bronchopneumonia when admitted to the hospital. Yet, because the hospital failed to note the child’s urine output, which was against accepted medical practice, the child suffered severe dehydration to the point that she was almost in hypovolemic shock. Sadly, the child suffered permanent injuries including mental retardation and mild cerebral palsy.
An OAS medical malpractice life care planner and vocational expert provided valuable evidence in the case. The expert showed the kinds of jobs the child would be able to perform in adulthood, given her injuries, and then compared that to what the child would have earned into adulthood had she not sustained her injuries due to the hospital’s negligence. The result was a substantial, yet appropriate, damages award for the plaintiff in the case.