Future Longterm Care Costs

Edited by Admin

Future Care Costs

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, your family may be entitled to make a claim for future care costs. This type of claim can be made if it can be foreseen that the injured person may continue to need care on a long-term basis. People who have suffered a spinal injury, a brain injury, or other life-altering kinds of injuries often need care for many years into the future. In recent tort cases, future care costs have made up the bulk of damages awarded to plaintiffs.


Since the costs for long-term or life-long care are projected ones, these expenses can be difficult to assess. A good personal injury law firm will help you to find “life care planning experts” – professionals who can assess your family member’s condition, and who will make predictions about the kinds of services and products he or she may require in future years. These experts conduct examinations and interviews with the patient, as well as assessing the expert opinions of exiting medical professionals who have been treating the claimant. These may include physicians, psychiatrists, surgeons, neurologists, and other specialists. The insurance company will also employ life care planning experts who will attempt to find evidence that contradicts yours. For this reason, it’s important to get expert advice when claiming future care costs – whether it’s at the time of the settlement, or during a trial.



Keeping Records

When an accident happens, family members are concentrating on helping those involved to recover from their injuries. However, it’s important to keep track of any medical treatment that the patient receives, and the names of doctors who are attending him or her. That way, medical records can be obtained should they be necessary. If possible, designate one person to keep track of this kind of information, and have this person be the contact for the family’s personal injury lawyer.


As soon as the injured person is receiving care, contact a personal injury law firm and ask for a consultation. The initial interview with a lawyer is often complimentary, and most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that your family will not be obliged to pay the lawyer until after a settlement has been reached. Choose a lawyer who communicates well with you. (In Toronto, some personal injury law firms offer services in several different languages, which can be useful if you or other family members are more comfortable speaking a language other than English.) A good personal injury lawyer can help to guide you through the process of filing a claim properly.



Future Cost of Care Awards Plaintiffs

A number of cases in Ontario have seen large future care costs awarded to plaintiffs. In Gordon v. Greig, for example, three young men were travelling north for a cottage weekend. Ryan Morrison and Derek Gordon were passengers in a pick-up truck driven by Corey Greig, who had been drinking. Greig lost control of the vehicle on a turn; the truck left the road, rolled, and Morrison and Gordon were thrown into the ditch. Morrison suffered a spinal injury causing paraplegia, and Gordon sustained a catastrophic brain injury. Damages in the amount of $11.3 million dollars were awarded by a judge.


In a jury verdict, damages of $16.9 million were awarded to the plaintiff in Marcoccia v. Gill. Robert Marcoccia, a young man who injured the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain in a car accident, was left with hemi-paresis, or weakness on one side of his body. The brain injury also affected his behaviour, social functioning and emotional response, and his ability to correctly gauge the consequences of his actions. Experts testified that Marcoccia would be unable to work to support himself, and would require 24-hour supervision, seven days a week. This latter line of testimony contributed greatly to the high figure of the award.


Although the figures may seem high, someone with a catastrophic injury will incur a significant number of expenses. Medication alone may run in the $5,000 - $10,000 per year range. In addition, housekeeping and repair may require several thousands of dollars per year, as will modified transportation. Physiotherapy costs approximately $100/hour, and most people with catastrophic injuries require home modification and costly special equipment. When, as in the case of Mr. Marcoccia, the claimant will require round-the-clock care, expenses sky-rocket.


A familial guardian is often appointed in these types of cases, to help the injury victim manage his or her affairs. However, it is assumed that anyone who receives a large settlement will invest the money skillfully, so a corporate guardian may also be appointed to manage the claimant’s financial affairs. These guardians are fairly compensated, constituting another ongoing expense.


It’s important for the plaintiff and family members to be prepared for the testimony presented in these types of cases. One tactic that the insurance company lawyers will use is to assert that the plaintiff will have a shortened life span due to their injury. While these predictions may be accurate based on current information, medical advances often make them obsolete.


Future care costs is not an easy thing to predict. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side to help guide you through the process, is a benefit that everyone should have.