De Caro & Kaplen partner Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer at law, teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School, discusses the importance of life care plans for brain injury survivors.
What is a life care plan, and why is it important for a brain injury lawyer to have one prepared for their clients in a personal injury lawsuit?
- A life care plan is prepared by an individual known as a life care planner, who is experienced in the long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury.
- It is used to support the attorneys’ contentions of the long-term economic consequences that follow a traumatic brain injury.
- A life care plan will project future medication needs and costs, future visits to physicians and the cost of those visits, future rehabilitation services and the costs for those services. It will look at and project future social service needs and costs.
- A life care plan will project future household needs and costs, and the cost to replace a family member, a spouse, or a parent with a skilled provider to provide these services as needed.
- A life care plan will include future support services for a person with a brain injury.
What steps need to be taken by the life care planner in developing a life care plan for a brain injury survivor in a personal injury lawsuit?
- All medical records must be provided and reviewed by the life care planner.
- Life care planner must interview the brain injury survivor and their family, to fully understand that individual’s needs, wants, and desires.
What are the questions a life care planner will address in preparing a life care plan for an individual with a traumatic brain injury?
- What care treatment, and support is needed to assist and care for an individual with a traumatic brain injury?
- How often will the brain injury survivor require this care, support services?
- Who will provide the care, rehabilitation and support services, and rehabilitation services?
- How will the brain injury survivor be transported to obtain these services?
What considerations must be addressed by a life care planner in preparing a life care plan for a brain injury survivor in a personal injury lawsuit?
- A brain injury is not a static condition. There are lifelong consequences to a traumatic brain injury that change. The life care planner must look into the future and examine what happens to this individual as they age, and as their needs increase for services.
- A life care planner must review the neuropsychological assessment and determine their current limitations, their current disabilities, their current needs. What kind of care must meet those specific needs of the individual? What kind of replacement services are needed for that individual? What is the cost for these replacement services?
- What is the effect on the traumatic brain injury victim if they do not receive the services recommended in the life care plan?
- A life care planner must not only consider current costs, but future costs for medical care and services. Inflation, how prices rise over time, the costs of replacing devices. The costs of having substitute care givers available as the need may arise.
What do attorneys representing brain injury victims need to consider in developing and presenting a life care plan in a personal injury lawsuit?
- A brain injury survivor is entitled to more than just the cost of survival. As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz so aptly put it “there’s no place like home”. But, when living at home all kinds of ancillary costs must be considered.
- A brain injury survivor is entitled to the best life that can be achieved in their home, and in their community. They need not be isolated in a rehab facility, or a nursing home for the rest of their life. They are a person with a brain injury, not a brain injured person.
- A properly qualified life care planner, with a proper plan, is necessary for a brain injury attorney, to achieve full and fair compensation for their clients.
About The Author
Michael V. Kaplen represents victims of vehicle collisions, unsafe buildings and construction sites, and medical malpractice, and is a preferred attorney of The Brain Injury Association of America.
Michael is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate and board certified in medical malpractice litigation. He is a Professorial Lecturer in Law, The George Washington University Law School, The Legal Aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury.
Michael is past chairman of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Automobile, Highway and Premise Liability Section, past chairman of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State served two terms as chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and vice-president, New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.
He was invited by President Obama to participate in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.
He is admitted to courts in New York, Florida, and Washington, DC. He has been selected as a New York Super Lawyer and recognized by Best Lawyers of America and U.S. News and World Report in personal injury law.