The cost of future care for serious personal injuries add up to staggering dollar amounts that would be impossible for the average person to pay without compensation. In Ontario, people who have sustained life-changing personal injury in a car accident, may be eligible to have these costs paid, through the insurance policy of the person who caused the accident (defendant). Past and current costs of care are relatively straightforward because actual dollar amount statements can be collected and added up. The task to justify, measure and predict future care costs is far more complicated.
Future care is a cost that falls under the legal term “pecuniary damages.” Common pecuniary damages include financial costs such as medications, therapy, counseling, property damage, special assessments, assistive devices and lost wages. It includes the cost of care, immediately following the accident and to the present. To be fair and effective, the cost of future care must consider the age of the plaintiff and whether or not family or someone else, will be caregiver. It must determine the amount and area of disability, the likelihood of improvement or decline.
Questions That Need To Be Considered
Will current supports be continued for a short period of time or a lifetime? Will future supports be required beyond what the client currently needs? Will some necessary supports available through government sources? What will the cost of care for the injured person be over their lifetime, considering inflation and the cost of living?
Cost Of Future Care Report
In personal injury cases involving serious and life altering disability – the preparation and presentation of a detailed costs for future care is an essential. Future Care Costs represent the largest monetary segment of any catastrophic injury claim. In an effort to establish an accurate evaluation of a plaintiffs future needs; your personal injury lawyer will likely request the creation of a “cost of future care report”. This special report is usually paid for by your lawyer and will likely be prepared by a certified rehabilitation registered nurse C.R.R.N. In efforts to evaluate your functional status, the rehabilitation nurse will need to review all your medical records, consult with your health care providers and relevant family members.
The following is a brief explanation of the steps involved in determining present and future health care for people who have been seriously injured.
Clients will be asked for written consent to share information about themselves in the form of a brief history, including date of birth, and whether single or married. The plaintiff or (injured person) will be asked about their education, job and length of time at current employment. A variety of personal information is discussed and recorded, for example: pre-accident sports and interests, social life, whether there are children and if so: the names and ages and needs of the children.
Accident information is collected from police reports, eyewitness reports and accident re-construction specialist’s reports. Also included is the plaintiff’s medical history pre-morbid (before the injury) and post-morbid (after the injury). The medical diagnosis and all medical intervention documents are gathered and examined. The plaintiff will be interviewed about the diagnosis and prognosis for their injuries. All documentation from doctors and medical tests are included.
You will be asked to describe your health status before the accident including energy levels and social activities. An interviewer will ask about your current health status physically, emotionally and cognitively.
You will be asked to describe physical pain or disability and whether or not your energy level has changed since the accident. Do you sleep well at night and feel rested upon rising?
Do you notice any change in your normal emotional state? How is your general outlook on life? Do you enjoy social activities in the same way as before the accident?
You must let the interviewer know about any changes in your cognitive ability. This could include losses in memory, speech, comprehension and concentration.
You will be asked to give a detailed explanation of all post accident changes and the ways they have impacted your life at work, at home and socially.
Post Accident Functional Ability
The injured person will be asked about whether or not their injuries have affected, normal activities of daily living. This includes:
- Stair climbing
- Bending or kneeling
- Reaching overhead
Most of us take these functional skills for granted. Loss in any one of these areas means we need help to do common daily tasks. We may no longer be able to reach overhead to change a light bulb, walk down the hall to the washroom or down the stairs to the laundry room, carry a toddler or groceries, reach the bottom shelf in the fridge or put on our shoes. The report must determine whether these activities can be carried out independently or require support.
The documentation for future care support, must discern whether or not the plaintiff is able to carry out the necessary tasks for self-care on his own. If not, the report must clearly define the necessary supports for tasks such as:
- Washing hair
- Tooth brushing
- Using the toilet
- Medication administration
Housekeeping and Maintenance
An in home assessment will be done to assess the plaintiff’s living situation. The information describes the type and layout of your home and the rooms in it. It will involve a brief description of bathrooms, stairways, unfinished rooms, carpeted or un-carpeted areas and broken items such as railings or steps. The plaintiff is asked about his responsibilities for house hold duties such as sweeping, cleaning, vacuuming, cooking, doing laundry,
Also included is a description of the outside of the home regarding gardens, lawns, driveways and walkways, along with normal care and maintenance duties.
If the plaintiff’s injuries prevent him from living comfortably in his home, he may need personal support workers or assistive devices such as a wheel chair or modifications such as wider halls and ramps. The report will address supports for plaintiffs who lived in the home independently before the accident but are no longer able to do so.
Education and Employment
The client is required to answer questions about his previous education along with supporting information. He will be asked about past and current employment and the amount of income.
- Present and future care recommendations
- Professional health care services
- Other professional services
- Medication and assistive devices
- In home assistance care
- Vocational supports
Summary of Costs
Each party will set up appointments for the plaintiff to meet with doctors, medical specialists, assessments and appropriate professionals, who have been chosen by respective lawyers. Each side will prepare a report of recommendations for the plaintiff’s future care benefits. The opposing sides base their final report on documents from their own individual specialists and assessments. In most cases the two reports are highly discrepant. A copy of all reports is sent to the plaintiff’s lawyer and the lawyer for the defense. If the case is not settled before court, it will be up to the presiding judge and jury to make the final decision.
We can’t turn back the pages of time to avoid tragic injury. The best we can do is plan for the future, foresee potential pitfalls and maximize opportunities. Based in Toronto, our job at the Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm is to ensure our clients have the financial resources necessary, to have the happiest and most satisfying life possible, in spite of serious personal injury. It is challenging and fulfilling work that we are good at. We take your future and the responsibility you have entrusted us with very seriously.