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Birth Injuries - What is a Life Care Plan and why do I need one?

Posted by attorney James Girards

In almost every catastrophic injury case in which there are ongoing medical, nursing, and rehabilitation needs, the trial attorney will obtain a Life Care Plan for the injured patient. A Life Care Plan is a dynamic document meaning that it changes over time along with the changing needs of the patient. It is a plan of care that reflects the life-long needs, based on reasonable medical probability, of the patient.

A Life Care Plan is created by an expert in the field of life care planning who typically has a certification in this area of study. The life care planner will evaluate the past and present medical records of the patient and work with the patient's physicians and therapists in order to put together what is basically a roadmap of the patient's future care. As the condition of the patient changes, the life care plan will change to reflect the change in anticipated needs. So for example, if the patient's condition worsens the Life Care Plan will change to reflect the change in status. If the patient's condition stabilizes, then the Life Care Plan will change to reflect that as well.

The details of the Life Care Plan will include reasonably anticipated medical, diagnostic, and surgical procedures, as well as nursing and rehabilitation needs. The plan will reflect the anticipated costs of those as well as the supplies needed to meet those needs.

One of the reasons that a Life Care Plan is needed is to educate the jury on the future needs of the patient that must be paid for by the jury verdict - in the case of a liability situation. For this reason, the trial attorney will seek out the best life care planner he or she can find in order to make the best and most persuasive jury presentation for the case. Obtaining a Life Care Plan for a patient who has suffered a catastrophic brain or spinal cord injury can run between $20,000 and $50,000 in fees and expenses. So, it is important to assure that the attorney retained for the patient has the kind of resources to fund this kind of effort.

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