Future Medical Care Costs
In a catastrophic personal injury case, inappropriate presentation of the necessarily huge future care costs will absolutely overwhelm and alienate a jury. Combine an inappropriate presentation of damages with a difficult liability scenario, and a defense verdict, or at best, a compromised verdict, can be predicted.
Proper presentation of past and future care expenses, as well as wage and other economic loss in catastrophic personal injury cases necessarily requires the assistance of a forensic economist in addition to life care planners and vocational rehabilitation specialists, as the particular facts dictate. In fact, after the liability hurdles have been overcome, one of the most important expert witnesses in your camp will be the forensic economist.
Medical care cost growth rates have historically increased “beyond rationalization”. For example, based on government statistics alone, each year, 1935 through 1995, hospital room and related services alone increased between a “low” of 4.9% to “high” of 11.1%.
Accordingly, let us assume that a life care planner has concluded that a particular plaintiff’s cost of care (in today’s dollars) is $106,000 per year through age 45, and then, when her parents die, care costs increased to $303,000 per year. (Note that these care costs are conservative in cases truly involving catastrophic personal injuries.) In such an instance, (assuming a nine-year old catastrophically injured child), the total future lifetime costs, with a below average historically based medical inflation rate of 5%, is over $166,000,000. Even when reduced to present cash value (using a historic U.S. Government bond rate) the cost is still $14,000,000. Appropriately presenting these damages to a jury, without alienation, is absolutely essential to the survival of the plaintiff.
Counsel must place these staggering numbers within an inflation framework, through appropriate expert testimony, in order the jury be assisted, not alienated, in understanding the future medical costs of the client.
Fiscal responsibility and accountability must likewise occur. It is unfortunately all too common for defendants to raise such issues as having a state or federally funded medical care program pay for the plaintiff’s future care. However, since the taxpayers are not the ones responsible for the plaintiff’s profound injuries, why should the taxpayers shoulder the financial burden and assume the debts of the defendant, the true responsible party.
Experienced counsel, through utilization of appropriate experts, can overcome the staggering impact and financial responsibility necessarily included in handling a case involving catastrophic personal injuries. Moreover, once an adequate award has been obtained, special needs trusts and other devices must be utilized in order to protect a plaintiff’s ability to survive.
Lastly, through utilization of appropriate life care planners, counsel can insure that an individual sustaining a catastrophic personal injury has a plan tailored to his/her particular needs. Such a plan, if followed, can only improve the plaintiff’s quality of life.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of a catastrophic injury, you need the assistance of The Scarlett Law Group.Call (415) 688-2176 today to speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney.