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How does the court in a medical malpractice case decide how much money to allocate for my child’s future care-related needs?

If the development of an individual’s cerebral palsy is related to the negligent care of a doctor, hospital or midwife, most jurisdictions allow for the parents or guardian pursue a case on their child’s behalf.   While some jurisdictions limit the compensation that an injured party may seek for intangible damages such as pain and suffering or disfigurement, most jurisdictions allow for parents to recover money for economic damages that their child has incurred as a result of his birth injury.

Determining a child’s future care needs

While uncertainty is an element in every person’s life, in the context of medical malpractice litigation— and cerebral palsy cases in particular— the future care-related expenses can be so significant that there is little room for error.  Consequently, many cerebral palsy lawyers utilize the services life-care planners to help educate decision makers in the case who are responsible for making determinations as to financial awards.

In the case of most cerebral palsy lawsuits, damages may be sought for both past and future care.  The use of a physician or other medical professional with who is trained in life care planning is an important component in both ascertaining an individual’s life expectancy— and specifically what the needs will likely be— and what they will likely cost.

Reviewing the child’s medical records and data

Most life-care planners go about their work after evaluating the individual, the patient’s medical records, and reports from the individual’s treating physicians.  After analyzing the related data, a life care planner can make predictions– within a reasonable degree of medical certainty— as to the person’s realistic life expectancy as well as the type of care that they will likely require throughout their life– from the number of hours of skilled nursing care they will likely require on a daily basis, they type of wheelchair they need, to how frequently a handicapped vehicle likely needs to be replaced.

Conveying the needs to a jury

Frequently, the services of an economist are engaged to help explain the life care planners recommendations in a dollars-and-sense fashion.  Working in tandem with a life care planner, an economist looks at the recommendations made in the life-care plan and calculates a monetary figure necessary to pay for the care–  throughout the course of the person’s life.  Most economists incorporate a rate of return for conservative investments to devise a present cash value for a cerebral palsy patient’s life plan.  Put simply, a sum of money needed today to provide for the suggested care of the individual over the course of the individual’s life.

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