Birth injuries sometimes result in permanent physical and mental disabilities. Children with cerebral palsy, HIE, and similar conditions will require a lifetime of medical care, therapy and support services. The extent of care and support services each child will need varies based on the type and severity of their condition. A life care plan can help establish the anticipated long-term financial impact of caring for a child who has been disabled by a birth injury.What is a Life Care Plan?
A life care plan a comprehensive legal report which: (a) analyzes and evaluates the child's specific injuries; (b) outlines all of the future medical care and services that the child will need throughout his life; and (c) estimates the total cost of providing that care. Basically, a life care plan outlines everything the disabled child is going to need and how much it will cost. Life care plans are created based on input and formal opinions from medical experts and other specialists. The medical experts develop a medical treatment plan outlining all of the necessary care and services the child should receive in light of his specific injuries and condition. This typically includes medical treatment (e.g., surgery, medications, etc.); educational support; rehabilitative therapy; mobility aids and other support services. The plan also includes a very detail cost estimate for each treatment, service, medication, etc. In birth injury lawsuits, life care plans give plaintiffs and their lawyers a definitive estimate of economic damages. A life care plan gives the plaintiff a comprehensive summary of the impact that the birth injury will have on their family. In a birth injury lawsuit, a good life care plan can used as a tool in settlement negotiations and at trial as evidence of damages.Components of a Life Care Plan
There is no required format for a life care plan. However, there are certain key components you will find in any life care plan.
- Introduction/Summary: most life care plans start with a summary or introduction section. The introduction basically just describes child's injuries and outlines how the life care plan was prepared.
- Medical History: this is something you will find is any life care plan. The medical history section provides a detailed narrative of the child's initial injury, diagnosis, and subsequent course of treatment. This section is often very detailed and is drafted based on review of the available medical records. The medical history section is important because it sets the table for estimating what treatment and services will be required and how much they will cost. The future medical needs and support services a child will require can vary significantly depending on the unique nature of the child's injury. The medical history section fully explains the specific type of injury and the resulting physical and/or mental impact of the injury.
- Summary of Costs: this section is usually just an outline list of all the various types of medical care and/or services that the child will require in light of his injury. The total estimated costs of the medical care and other services is usually provided along with an itemized statement of costs by type and time frame. For example, the summary of costs section may begin with a total overall cost estimate, followed by a cost breakdown of various categories (e.g., medications, testing, therapy, counseling, etc.). Some plans provide further itemized costs estimates for each category (e.g., for "medications" a detailed list of each separate medication and its cost).
- Explanation of Costs: this section of the report offers another level of detail for each cost item. The explanation of costs section goes through each separate treatment, medication or service in all the categories. For each item, the report offers a brief explanation of what it is; why it is necessary; and how much it will cost.
- Sources & References: at the end of the life care plan there is usually a section similar to an index which lists the source used for the cost estimates in the report. This usually includes current pricing and fees from providers showing the costs of medications or diagnostic tests. It can also include healthcare cost estimates in 3>rd party studies or reports and/or previous expenses from prior treatments. Finally, most reports end with a list of all the medical records and other documents that were reviewed in preparing the life care plan.
Life care plans aim to be comprehensive and generally include all reasonably necessary medical treatments, services and other items. Cost items often seen in life care reports can include:
- Medical treatments, procedures or surgeries
- Required medications
- Mobility aids and/or adaptive equipment (wheelchairs, learning aids, etc.)
- Mobility modifications to the home (wheelchair ramps, lifts, handrails)
- Physical and/or occupational therapy
- Educational assistance or support services (speech therapy, tutoring)
- In-home medical care / assistance
- Transportation expenses (wheelchair van, etc.)
- Lost lifetime wages / income
If your child has been disabled by a birth injury, contact the lawyers at Miller & Zois for a free investigation and evaluation of your case. We can explain whether you have a claim for malpractice and, if necessary, prepare a life care plan for your child. Call us at 800-553-8082 today or get a free online consultation.