A Life Care Plan is defined as: “a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs." Often deemed a roadmap, a Life Care Plan is regarded as “the most effective case management method, used in consultation with patients, families, rehabilitation professionals, and catastrophic case managers.” Life Care Plans are heavily relied upon by Plaintiff and Defense attorneys to assist in determining the documentation of damages in medically challenging or catastrophic injury cases. (See “Frequently Asked Questions about Life Care Plans”). Source: International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP).

Two Types of Life Care Plans:

Non-Catastrophic Life Care Plans: Used for less severe cases. For example, if an individual sustains a soft-tissue injury, may still be working, or is able to return to work, but he/she has long-term medical needs and impairments.

Catastrophic Life Care Plans: Used for severe cases. For example, when an individual has sustained a permanent injury, lasting a year or more, and requires medical treatments and services over the course of his/her lifetime.

Types of cases include:

Spinal cord injury, loss of limb (amputation), traumatic brain injury, burns, or monocular vision or blindness.

PVE Life Care Planning Services Typically Include:

  • Medical document review based on a medical professional’s opinion(s).
  • Evaluation interview, which can be performed in a home, nursing home, office, hospital setting or remotely.
  • Comprehensive needs assessment regarding the impact of a person’s injuries on his/her daily living and recreational activities.
  • Research regarding the various costs of recommended items and services in the client’s geographical area. Services may entail: medical, psychological/emotional, physiological, recreational/social integrations, architectural/vehicle modifications, and possible future surgeries.
  • The Life Care Planner combines all the above information to reach an opinion regarding the individual’s current and projected needs.

Please note: If your client was gainfully employed at the time of a catastrophic injury or debilitating event, he/she will need an Employability and/or Loss of Earning Capacity Evaluation (see below). This is conducted in addition to a Life Care Plan, when the Certified Life Care Planner is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Should the case go to trial, the attorney would only need to call one expert, not two, to testify about the Life Care Plan and the Employability or Loss of Earnings Evaluation.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Life Care Plan?

 

A Life Care Plan,  often considered a roadmap, is defined as: “a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs." A Life Care Plan is considered “the most effective case management method, used in consultation with patients, families, rehabilitation professionals, and catastrophic case managers.” Life Care Plans are heavily relied upon by Plaintiff and Defense attorneys to assist in determining the documentation of damages in medically challenging or catastrophic injury cases.  Source: International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP)

What does a Life Care Plan consist of?

 

The Life Care Plan typically consists of a document review of the foundational medical professional opinions, a home visit, an interview, an objectively detailed assessment as to the impact of the person’s injuries on their activities of daily living, and research as to the cost of various recommended items and services in the client’s geographical area. Services could entail psychological/emotional, physiological, recreational/social integrations, architectural/vehicle modifications, and possible future surgeries.  The Life Care Planner combines all the above information to reach an opinion as to the disabled individual’s needs, current and projected in the life care plan document.

What if a person can no longer work?

 

If your client was gainfully employed at the time of the catastrophic injury or debilitating event, they will need an Employability and/or Loss of Earning Capacity Evaluation. This can be done in addition to a Life Care Plan, when the Certified Life Care Planner is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Should the case go to trial, the attorney would only need to call one expert, not two, to testify about the Life Care Plan and the Employability or Loss of Earning Evaluation.

When is a Life Care Plan Evaluation necessary when documenting damages?

 

A Life Care Plan is indicated when a client’s injuries or condition is so severe that they will no longer be able to perform their activities of daily living, or can only do so in a diminished capacity.  Possible indicators that an individual will require a Life Care Plan is when they mobility issues, needing a cane, a walker or wheelchair, or if they have a loss of limb(s) or impairment bodily functions. Another indicator is when an individual already receives home care assistance, either from a family member or home care agency. Please note that Life Care Plans are designed to make the individual a whole person, therefore, assistance from family members or friends is generally not considered to perform daily or periodic home care. 

What type of cases should a Life Care Plan Evaluation be considered?

 

Both catastrophic and non-catastrophic cases can have a need for a Life Care Plan. Some examples of catastrophic cases: spinal cord injuries, paraplegia, quadriplegia (tetraplegia),  infants with brain injuries, cerebral palsy, severe brain injuries, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS), Fibromyalgia, back or neck injury, amputations, loss of an eye, blindness, severe loss of hearing, psychiatric or psychological trauma, HIV/AIDS and severe burns.

Examples of  non-catastrophic injuries such as back injuries, knee injuries (ACL/MCL/meniscus), soft tissue injuries, mild TBI/concussions, injuries involving an infant or child, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents (premises liability), motor vehicle accidents (automobile, truck, train, boat, plane, helicopter, motorcycle, or bicycle), product liability,  Mass Tort, or workplace accidents.

What documents are required in advance to have a Life Care Plan Evaluation performed?

 

Hospital records (admission and discharge summaries in addition to operative reports), treating and examining physician’s narratives/reports for both plaintiffs and defendants, psychological/psychiatric & neuropsychological reports, legal documents (bill of particulars or answers to interrogatories; depositions (plaintiff and defense), economist report, additional employability expert and/or life care plan reports. DO NOT send medical bills, handwritten doctors and nursing notes, lab results and x-rays. If available, please provide videos or tapes to show a day in the life of the victim or surveillance tapes.  If previously employed, please provide employment records, W-2 wage statements, and individual income tax returns (no joint tax returns) for the preceding five years. If the case is regarding a child, you will need to obtain their entire school records, grades, test scores or IEP, 504 Plan documents.  In addition, when working with children we need the parents’ employment and educational history.

How long does it take to perform an evaluation and obtain a report?

 

A vocational evaluation takes about two to three hours. After the evaluation is performed, a standard report takes from four to six weeks to complete. If you require a report in less than four weeks or less, you must request the Rush service and schedule your client immediately. In some circumstances, a rush report can be completed in 24-48 hours.

What happens when your case goes to trial and you need an expert witness?

 

Mr. Daly is available to testimony as a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor/Employability Expert and Certified Life Care Planner. His office will assist you in developing a direct examination questions so depositions and trial testimony of your case can go smoothly. At the time of testimony, the expert will be extremely knowledgeable about your case and will bring customized exhibits to educate the court and/or the jury regarding the damages portion of your case.

Why choose Premier Vocational Experts?

 

The experts at Premier Vocational Experts provide comprehensive rehabilitation and vocational services, vocational expert services, and life care planning services. We provide employability assessments of both able-bodied and disabled individuals. We specialize in catastrophic and non-catastrophic injury cases involving adults and children with Traumatic Brain Injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Our offices are headquartered in New Jersey and we also have easy access to New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware.

In addition, we have pioneered the use of video teleconferenced Vocational/Life Care Plan Evaluations, as well as web portal and internet aptitude and skills testing, for your client who cannot attend an in-person evaluation.

We welcome your questions via email or telephone.