Life Care Plans as a Settlement Tool
Oftentimes when a client is injured, their needs may extend for years beyond the initial incident - especially in catastrophic cases. Thus, choosing the right life care plan is an essential and useful tool which will ensure a client receives the maximum amount of settlement possible for their injuries. The proper life care plan will help quantify and manage the long-term costs of these injuries. Life care plans can go beyond proving damages during trial and can be useful when negotiating with insurance adjusters.
First, a life care plan is a strategic proposal created by an appropriate professional to address an injured party’s current and future needs. Typically, a life care planner will have a background in occupational therapy, rehabilitation, nursing, care management, social work, professional counseling, psychology, physical therapy, medicine, special education, or speech pathology. To ensure you or a client is choosing the right life care plan, it should be important to keep these qualifications in mind.
Selecting the Right Planner
The total extent of injuries is usually a good gauge when identifying what type of life care planner you should retain. If the injured party has been seen by various medical providers, ensure that you are choosing a planner that has the experience and expertise to develop a plan that addresses all the client’s future medical needs. For example, if a client has suffered psychological trauma, you would be best suited with a life care planner that has extensive experience in the mental health profession.
Above all, the life care plan chosen by a client should fully quantify potential future medical costs and any or all home modifications/home care aids (automatic chair lifts, wheelchair ramps, etc.) that will ensure the client’s lifelong needs are met. A good tip to keep in mind when quantifying future medical costs - use today’s present value rather than estimating what the value of costs might be in the future. This will ensure that you do not lose credibility with an insurance adjuster and will help you plan and prevent an inevitable argument that the rates were inflated or questionable. Insurance adjusters can frequently change depending on the severity of the claim, so staying consistent is essential to maintaining the validity of your claim.
Timing and Presenting the Plan
Typically, the best time to retain a life care planner is after pre-suit negotiations fail and during the discovery of litigation. Compiling a life care plan early can ensure that you are prepared to counter insurers’ and defendants’ inevitable tactics to diminish the long-term costs of a client’s injury. A standard settlement demand package should be sent to the insurer before presenting a life care plan. Introducing both together could be harmful as the insurer may attempt to negotiate down from the future medical cost figure in the life care plan. Introducing the plan later (if the insurer disputes your damages claims) may incentivize the insurer to increase the offer. Hence, consciously presenting your life care plan at the right time is vital for obtaining the maximum amount of settlement available for a client.
A life care plan is a useful tool that, when prepared and presented at the right time to insurers, can allow you to settle a client’s case early while still adequately compensating for all future medical needs and costs.
Walton + Brown, LLP takes pride in having a successful serious personal injury and civil rights practice, unafraid to step into a courtroom and litigate cases to the fullest extent necessary. With over 450 lawsuits filed and over $18 million in settlements or verdicts won for our clients, Sean and Chanda bring a record of success. Sean and Chanda have been awarded Top 100 and Top 40 Under 40 designations as trial attorneys.
Walton + Brown, LLP
395 E. Broad Street, Suite 200
Columbus, OH 43215