When pursuing damages for a child in a medical malpractice case, one of the most important tools for evaluating the cost of a child’s long-term needs is called a life care plan. In this article, our experienced New Jersey pediatric malpractice attorneys will thoroughly explain life care planning and why it is critical for parents and caregivers, as well as the children who have been victims of medical malpractice.
What is a Life Care Plan?
A life care plan is a comprehensive outline of the current and future needs of a victim who suffered a permanent injury, including the costs associated with said needs. Life care planning takes into account a vast array of medical services, therapies, medications, medical devices, and other products needed to care for an individual and help them live their best life.
The life care plan often reflects to the jury in a medical malpractice case the exorbitant cost associated with caring for a victim of medical malpractice who has suffered a catastrophic, life-altering injury. Having a child with a permanent condition such as Cerebral Palsy can leave parents in an untenable financial situation, which is why it is crucial to recover compensation to help fund their child’s lifelong needs.
What is the Purpose of a Life Care Plan?
Life care planning involves the development of a customized program tailored to suit the specific person it serves. For example, children who suffer serious birth injuries often require some level of assistance for the rest of their lives. This can range from wheelchairs, to 24-hour nursing care, consistent doctor appointments, intermittent hospital stays, rehabilitative treatments, physical therapy, speech therapy, and adjustments to the home for more functional living.
Your child’s doctors, therapists, caregivers, and specialized life care planners can work together to develop the life care plan best suited for your child’s needs. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys will then use this plan as a basis for seeking a certain amount of damages during the negotiation and/or litigation process. In many cases, the life care plan’s costs are astronomical, amounting to millions of dollars. Although overwhelming for a single family, those who are responsible for contributing to your child’s condition are required to carry insurance for this very purpose.
It is essential to have a comprehensive, accurate life care plan to present to the jury in a birth injury or pediatric malpractice case, and to have an expert witness who can testify as to the validity of the life care plan based on the child’s needs, life expectancy, place of residence, and other factors.
What is Included in a Life Care Plan?
As mentioned above, every life care plan is unique, just as every child has unique needs. However, there are common considerations that are taken into account when developing most life care plans for childhood medical malpractice victims. Some of the predominant elements included in a life care plan are as follows:
- Doctors and healthcare providers involved in the child’s care
- Necessary testing
- Surgeries and medical procedures
- Medical devices
- In-home accommodations
- Therapies: including occupational, speech, and physical
- Specialized in-home care, nurses, and home health aids (sometimes needed around the clock)
- Education (appropriate schooling environment for the child’s needs and learning goals)
It is important to remember that a child’s needs may evolve as the grow and develop. This is why it is crucial to have a long-term plan that reflects the child’s changing needs over the course of their life.
Evaluating the Cost of a Life Care Plan
Once the life care plan is fully developed, a financial expert will evaluate the cost of all of the elements included in the life care plan and adjust the total to a present day value. This monetary amount will become a critical component of the medical malpractice case on your child’s behalf. If the case proceeds to trial, the jury can award damages based on the amount reflected in the life care plan as is, or make adjustments as they see fit. The complexity of this process is best handled by experienced pediatric malpractice attorneys who can ensure proper life care planning and execution by certified life care planners and experts, as well as aggressive advocacy for maximum compensation.
Contact New Jersey Childhood Medical Malpractice Lawyers about Your Child’s Life Care Plan
If your child suffers a medical condition resulting from negligence on the part of a healthcare provider or facility, you need a life care plan that reflects his or her needs. Our skilled NJ pediatric malpractice lawyers are very familiar with the process of life care planning for children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, cognitive impairments, and other serious injuries and we will fight for the compensation your child needs. Contact us online or by phone at 866-708-8617 for a free consultation about your child’s specific situation. We are happy to answer all of your questions and discuss how a life care plan can best serve his or her needs.