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Physician Life Care Planners as Expert Witnesses

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In high-stakes catastrophic injury litigation, life care planning is critical.

Many legal matters involve long-term and permanent injuries that will require a lifetime of care: physical therapy, medication, visiting nurses, home health aides, residential treatment, and more. Because every person's body is different, lifetime care needs vary significantly from person to person. The same injury could have substantially different implications for different people. This is why individuals with such injuries need comprehensive, individualized life care plans.

Because the cost of a lifetime of care can be quite high, life care planning plays a critical role in litigation involving permanent injuries. In these situations, a physician life care planner can make all the difference as an expert witness.

What is life care planning?

Life care planning is the medical discipline concerned with assessing and quantifying care needs created by a permanent disability. Life care planners use comprehensive assessments, established standards of practice, data analysis, and research to create organized plans that account for current and future medical needs, with associated costs, over the patient's remaining life expectancy.

A life care plan may include:

  • Future medical procedures and interventions
  • Medical services such as in-home care, physical therapy, or occupational therapy
  • Durable medical equipment such as beds, wheelchairs, canes, and oxygen equipment
  • Medical supplies such as bandages and incontinence products
  • Medication
  • Home furnishing and renovations
  • Transportation
  • Household services (help with cleaning, maintenance, etc.)
  • Future diagnosis and evaluation

Importantly, a life care plan also includes the estimated financial cost of each of these medical services, devices, and interventions. As such, a life care planner plays an invaluable role when it comes to quantifying the cost of a permanent injury or catastrophic illness.

Types of injuries that may require life care planning

Any permanent, life-altering injury that will require a lifetime of care also needs a life care plan, including but not limited to:

  • Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and acquired brain injuries (ABI)
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI) including paraplegia and quadriplegia
  • Amputation (loss of limbs)
  • Blindness
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Severe burns
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy

Life care planners are frequently called upon in birth injury cases that involve cerebral palsy and other life-altering injuries to a newborn, as well as medical malpractice and personal injury cases that involve permanent, disabling injuries.

Physician life care planners as expert witnesses

Both physicians and non-physician medical professionals can work as life care planners. However, while there are many good non-physician life care planners, physicians bring unique strengths as experts in high-stakes litigation.

First, a physician's training, education, and experience add credibility in the eyes of a jury compared to non-physicians. Even more importantly, physician life care planners can independently assess and diagnose a patient's medical needs and formulate their own medical opinions based on their assessment. This is vital if your life care planning expert needs to critique an unsatisfactory plan presented by an insurance company or opposing counsel.

Contact Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants to find your life care planning expert

Because of the critical role life care planners play in high-stakes litigation, it's important for attorneys to find the right experts. At Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants, we proudly offer physician life care planners who are prepared to work with both plaintiff's and defense counsel. Our experts' services include a five- to six-hour preliminary life care plan review or a comprehensive Full Life Care Plan Review that includes communication with the patient and their caregivers.

If you need a life care planner for a potential or ongoing legal matter, we'd be happy to discuss your case and explain how we can help. Contact Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants today to learn more.

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