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Life Care Planner

Life Care Planner

When someone has been catastrophically injured as the result of someone else’s negligent conduct, their world has likely been turned upside. The situation may have resulted in paralysis, loss of limbs, traumatic brain injury, organ damage, or any number of other serious and life-altering conditions. They may not be able to do even the most basic daily activities, including eating as they normally would, using the bathroom, bathing, getting out of bed, or maintaining a job. They may need assistive devices such as a wheelchair, medical bed, or adaptive devices for the bathroom. It is likely that their home was not handicapped accessible before, and significant home renovations would be required to allow them to remain in their home, including widening of doors, assistive railings in bathrooms, elevators or stair lifts, lowering of kitchen appliances to allow for wheelchair accessible use, and ramps to access and exit the home. If renovations are not feasible, or are not possible, they may have to move into a home that is handicapped accessible, which can generate moving costs or result in the individual having to purchase a home that is more costly than their current residence. These are just some of the many potential expenses that come along with a life-changing, catastrophic injury.

A life care planner is an individual who has education specific to identifying the needs of an individual who has suffered a life-altering injury and who is qualified to formulate a plan that identifies the options, and associated costs, for helping the injured individual to adapt to their handicaps and maximize their recovery and quality of life. A life care planner can also help identify the needs of family members who serve as caretakers, and help ensure that the family unit receives assistance that they need to avoid caretaker burnout and frustrations that can accompany such a significant change of life for all involved.

Many life care planners have education and background in fields such as nursing or therapy. They have also completed higher education, including Masters and Doctorate degrees, that are specifically focused on identifying the needs of an individual with physical or developmental impairments. Though life care planners are not always assisting individuals who have a legal claim against a negligent party, they are often utilized in those types of cases where significant costs would be an element of the damages. In the context of a legal claim, the life care planner will typically review relevant documents, such as medical records and statements or testimony of the individual, family, friend, and treating healthcare providers, to assess the individual’s needs and lifestyle. The life care planner will usually also do an in person meeting and home visit to gain further understanding of the injured individual’s current situation and what adaptations would be necessary. The life care planner will then author a life care plan, which will set forth the nature of the injuries – based upon medical records and treating physicians’ testimony – and list the things the injured individual would need to life a safe and healthy life that seeks to minimize the hurdles posed by their injuries. The life care planner may suggest therapies and other assistive programs, such as new educational or work training paths, that the individual may not have been aware of, and can suggest respite or relief care programs to help families get additional assistance with care in the event of an emergency or conflict with regularly scheduled care.

While not every legal case will require the involvement of a life care planner, use of a life care planner in cases involving significant and permanent injuries can greatly help a jury to better understand the needs of the injured individual and the costs associated with providing necessary care to that individual. Almost everyone can understand that someone who has incurred injuries involving paralysis, amputation, or a traumatic brain injury will have many significant needs for medical care and assistance, but a life care planner helps to specifically identify those needs and better explain to a jury why such things are helpful and necessary to an injured individual.

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