What is a Life Care Plan?
Stated simply, a Life Care Plan is a document that will set forth an individual’s future medical and non-medical care needs arising from the event in question. The following must be considered when doing a Life Care Plan:
- A life care planner should be certified. There are two certifications in Life Care Planning that presently exist. The Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) is awarded by the International Commission on Healthcare Certification (ICHCC). VDI has a number of staff members who hold this credential. The Certified Nurse Life Care Planner (CNLCP) credential is awarded by the Certified Nurse Life Care Planner Certification Board.
- Life Care Planning has historically been recognized as a multi-disciplinary area of practice. Certified Life Care Planners can be rehabilitation experts, registered nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and even medical doctors. Each specific area of practice can be important in developing a Life Care Plan.
- It is critical for any life care planner to obtain foundation for the recommended items in the Life Care Plan. Just because one has a credential in life care planning does not mean that they are qualified to make case-specific recommendations that fall outside of their professional scope of practice. For instance, a registered nurse cannot recommend a specific course of medical treatment; only a licensed physician can do that. A rehabilitation counselor cannot recommend a specific course of physical therapy that someone may require for treatment of their injuries. Only a licensed physical therapist or physician can do that. A rehabilitation counselor, however, can provide foundation for mental health treatment if following their assessment of the plaintiff, they believe this is required.
- Understanding the individual scope of practice and then interfacing with other licensed, allied healthcare professionals, will guarantee the credibility of the Life Care Plan as well as its admissibility in court.
- There are recognized standards of practice that must be applied to every case where a Life Care Plan is developed. VDI’s life care planning experts know this.
- Life Care Plans should be done in any case where future medical and non-medical care is being recommended. It is a common belief that a Life Care Plan should only be done in the case involving “catastrophic” injury; this is not true. Interface with a medical expert can identify the need for future medical and non-medical care arising from claimed injuries. This may take the form of a single surgical procedure, other treatment interventions such as injections, pain management modalities, therapies and/or medications. There can be considerable costs associated with any and all of these items.
- VDI Life Care Planners know how to set forth these future care needs, quantify the value of them and interface with necessary medical and non-medical experts to support them.
Contact Vocational Diagnostics if you are in need of a Life Care Plan.
Claims involving personal injury will usually include claims for lost income and lost (diminished) earning capacity. Lost income is commonly defined as income lost from the date of the event continuing through the date that the evaluation is done or, in some jurisdictions, the date of Trial. Lost (diminished) earning capacity considers these economic losses going forward to the end of ones work life expectancy.
Are lost wages the same as lost (diminished) earning capacity?
No! Lost earnings (income) and earning capacity are not the same. Lost (diminished) earnings (also referred to as lost income) are typically individual-specific and consider a job at which a plaintiff was employed at the time of the event in question. An example might be a truck driver working for “XYZ Trucking Company” where the truck driver was making $30,000 per year. If the Plaintiff was off work due to his injuries for three months, lost earning (income) might appear to be easily calculated.
His lost earning capacity , however, might be a different story. The only expert qualified to determine whether a plaintiff has sustained a loss in earning capacity is a vocational (rehabilitation) expert.
All people who work in the competitive labor market require skills in order to perform the essential functions of jobs for which they are qualified. The vocational (rehabilitation) expert is the only one who can determine if ones skill set allows them to transfer to another job that might pay comparable wages. If not, the individual might then have a loss of earning capacity . Whether or not this loss might continue over ones work life expectancy is an individual-specific determination that only a vocational (rehabilitation) expert can make. In short, the vocational (rehabilitation) expert is the only one qualified to determine what other jobs someone might be able to perform considering the medical evidence and what these jobs pay.
Lost (diminished) earning capacity may be mitigated through occupational retraining where one can acquire additional skills to be used in a return to work. In many cases, with a short term investment in training that might take someone out of the work force for a defined period of time, the additional (new) skills acquired could result in new opportunities and higher earning power.
The vocational (rehabilitation) experts at VDI can evaluate these issues.
A forensic economist, as valuable as they are to a case with their number crunching ability, cannot determine whether someone has had a loss of earning capacity . VDI’s vocational (rehabilitation) experts interface with forensic economists in almost every case in which we are retained. Each expert brings to the table their specific expertise in evaluating damages in this critical area.
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