"Life Care Plans" in California Personal Injury Cases

A "life care plan" is a projection of the medical care and other costs someone who has experienced a catastrophic or permanent injury will need during his or her lifetime. A life care plan is often used in a California personal injury case when someone is seriously injured as the result of another party's negligence or other wrongful act.

Damages that can be established with a life care plan include (but are not limited to): 

To help you better understand life care plans, our California personal injury lawyers discuss, below:

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1. What is a life care plan?

A life care plan is a comprehensive document that lists a plaintiff's current and anticipated future medical needs and costs. The plans are often introduced as evidence by people who have been suffered a catastrophic injury or illness, often as a result of someone else's strict liability or negligence.

2. What expenses will the plan address?

The needs addressed in a life care plan will vary from plaintiff to plaintiff depending on the injuries sustained. Expenses often covered in a life care plan include (without limitation):

  • Projected routine medical care.
  • Projected surgeries (including reconstruction).
  • Projected psychological care.
  • Vocational or occupational therapy.
  • Long-term or short-term care.
  • Home health care.
  • Medication.
  • Diagnostic testing and assessments.
  • Equipment and supplies (such as wheelchairs, diapers, etc.).
  • Home modifications (such as ramps, handrails and wider doors).
  • Home furnishings (such as automated beds or bath lifters).
  • Alarms and monitors.
  • Orthotics or prosthetics.
  • Transportation needs.
  • Other special aid, equipment or accommodations.

3. How is a life care plan used in a California personal injury case?

Arriving at a settlement or damage award is one of the most challenging parts of a California personal injury case. It is critical to ask for and justify an amount that will give the plaintiff the best possible quality of life for the remainder of his or her life.

The best life care plans in California contain a comprehensive analysis of the patient's current and likely future needs. To create a compelling plan, a top California personal injury lawyer will get input from:

  • The plaintiff s physicians,
  • The plaintiff 's therapists,
  • The plaintiff (if possible),
  • Friends, family and co-workers,
  • Medical equipment and supply vendors,
  • Home contractors, and
  • Expert witnesses, such as vocational experts.

4. How is life expectancy calculated in a California injury case?

Life expectancy is an issue for a jury to decide.1 It is usually based on the plaintiff's life expectancy as it existed just before the incident or accident.2 That way the plaintiff is not punished for any diminished life expectancy resulting from the defendant's wrongful act.

In determining this period, the jury may consider published mortality tables.3 These tables usually take into account the plaintiff's gender and race, as well as age.

But published mortality tables are not conclusive. The jury may also consider, among other factors, the plaintiff's health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and occupation.4

5. What kinds of injury cases can benefit from a life care plan?

Types of injuries that often benefit from a life care plan include (without limitation):

  • Anesthesia injuries,
  • Burn injuries,
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE),
  • Drowning accidents,
  • Loss of limbs,
  • Nerve injuries,
  • Spinal cord injuries, 
  • Traumatic brain injury (“TBI”), and
  • Wrongful birth.

But anyone with a catastrophic injury can benefit from a life care plan – both for coping with the injury and for obtaining the best settlement or award possible.

Need help with a life care plan in California? Call us…

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If you or someone you care about has suffered a catastrophic injury and need a life care plan or legal representation, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

We handle all types of personal injury claims, including "slip-and-fall" accidents, car accidents, medical malpractice, and products liability as well as loss of consortium claims by spouses and registered domestic partners.

Call us at (855) LAWFIRM to speak with a California injury attorney about your case.

Legal references:

  1. California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3932. Life Expectancy.
  2. Fein v. Permanente Medical Group (1985) 38 Cal.3d 137.
  3. Life expectancy tables are often based on Vital Statistics of the United States, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. See, e.g., the tables referenced in CACI 3932, note 1.
  4. Allen v. Toledo (1980) 109 Cal.App.3d 415.

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