What is a life care plan and why is it important in birth injury claims?

A Life Care Plan is a report prepared by a suitably qualified expert that identifies and addresses both immediate and long-term needs for a child that has suffered catastrophic injuries. A Life Care Plan will typically set out a comprehensive list all of the various supports, services, therapies, and equipment that will be required to properly care for the child over the course of his or her lifetime. In addition, the report will identify and set out the associated costs for such items and detail those costs over the expected life of the child. This information in a Life Care Plan will form an important part of the evidence for determining the amount of compensation in a birth injury claim.

Typically, your lawyer will seek the assistance of an expert life care planner in the course of a birth injury claim. A properly qualified life care planner will typically have experience and training in areas such as occupational therapy or rehabilitation services, particularly involving children with serious injuries. The life care planner will carefully assess the functions and needs of the child in the context of their family and other support providers. Typically the Life Care Plan will incorporate the child’s existing supports, equipment, and services, as well as their predicted future requirements. It will seek to identify gaps in existing supports and service delivery, and will anticipate future needs, such as changing needs for care and therapies as the child ages, and the replacement of equipment over time.

Often, in preparing the report, a life care planner will make both home and, where applicable, school observations to assess the child’s functional status and needs. In preparing the report, the planner may conduct interviews with caregivers, teachers, family members, and other individuals involved in caring for the child. The life care planner may also review existing medical charts and therapy records as part of their overall assessment.

This comprehensive listing of the various supports, services, therapies and equipment, and in particular the life care planner’s identification of the costs associated with such items, is extremely important in a birth injury claim, as it will form the basis of the amounts being sought as compensation for future care costs, which can be the most significant category of damages claimed. The Life Care Plan and the life care planner therefore provide the foundation of the expert evidence used to establish this most important area of compensation on a birth injury claim.