Personal injury lawyers commonly are consulted by a potential client who has been seriously injured or who has suffered catastrophic injuries as the result of the breadth of negligent conduct, from an auto accident or bicycle or pedestrian or motorcycle accident to medical malpractice, a product defect, food poisoning, or a defect or failure to maintain commercial or residential premises.
While “liability” in some cases may be simple, such as the auto accident lawyers establishing through witness testimony that the defendant driver ran the red light, the presentation of the damage case in every serious injury case is complex. Specific injuries sustained in auto accidents or premises liability cases, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Or spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis, quadriplegia or paraplegia. And the resulting loss of enjoyment of life, can be as complex to present by personal injury lawyers. As the evidence of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome HUS in a food poisoning case. Or cerebral palsy in an obstetrical medical malpractice case.
Furthermore, speaking again just in terms of the client’s “general damages,” the personal injury lawyers must use appropriate strategies to convey to the settlement judge or jury the life consequence of the serious injuries. Many personal injury attorneys refer to “general damages” as “pain and suffering”. But often the most persuasive strategy can be framed in terms of “loss of enjoyment of life.” One way that lawyers will present their clients general damages is by eliciting the testimony of the client. His family and friends, as well as photographs and home movies demonstrating all the activities. That the client enjoyed most in his life before the accident, juxtaposed against a “Day in the Life” film. Commissioned by the personal injury lawyer to demonstrate the courage of the seriously injured client as he confronts all of the obstacles and challenges presented by his daily life.
The personal injury lawyer must also present the client’s “special damages” including his past. And future medical expenses and past and future loss of earnings or earning capacity. Past medical expenses are often easy to prove, simply gathering. And summing all medical bills accumulated from the date of the accident through the date of the settlement conference or trial. Future medical expenses are much more complicated for personal injury attorneys to present. Usually requiring the testimony of a number of medical experts, a life care planner and a forensic economist.
Very briefly, the life care planner consults with the treating. And the medical experts hired by the serious injury attorneys to arrive at the client’s life expectancy. And itemize all of the medical expense, from additional surgeries to convalescent home or rehabilitation expense. To replacement prostheses or wheel chairs to medical supplies that the client will require over the course of his life expectancy. The personal injury lawyer will the present the “life care plan” to a forensic economist. Who will increase the individual costs over the time period using medical cost inflation statistics. And then reduce the total to present value.