A personal injury defense will virtually never agree to a settlement in the form of both a lump sum and a blank check for future medical treatment. Because my firm commonly deals with significant and catastrophic injuries, we’re normally forced to make big decisions about settlement versus trial while our clients are still suffering from injuries related to their incidents. If the client still has injuries attributed to the event that is the subject of the litigation, it’s important to get a handle on the present and future value of their injuries.
It is the personal injury attorney’s responsibility to retain the best expert witnesses to help identify the nature and extent of residual injuries and make credible projections of future economic damages and non-economic damages.
For example, assume a 28-year-old nurse who suffered a spinal cord injury is unable to resume her employment. In this type of case, you need to retain a prominent neurosurgeon or spine surgeon to examine the client and review the films and records to determine the future medical care she will need and the long-term or permanent functional impairments she will be forced to live with.
The attorney will also retain experts to forecast the future cost of medical care. In this example, there would likely be an expert in vocational rehabilitation and a forensic specialist who can determine to what extent the client’s injuries exclude her from future employment as a nurse and what alternative employment might be available. Future medical expenses and loss of earning capacity are significant components of damages that cannot be overlooked. We often retain forensic economists to map out future damages and convert those damages to present value.