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What is Future Care and What Determines How Much I Receive?

It is ironic that it takes a person’s single decision or moment of inattention to cause your potentially life-changing injury. While it is easy to see how their acting (or not acting) in that particular way has caused you harm, it is not a simple task to put a specific number on what they owe you for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and for outright inconveniencing your life. Further, once the trial is over, it does not indicate that your life will return to how it was before the accident. So, how do you put a number on a seemingly arbitrary set of conditions? Is there a way for the defendant to cover the costs you have yet to incur as you continue to receive care for your injuries, even if you don’t know how long they will last?

In the world of personal injury litigation, this topic is known as future care. It is important to note that future care is different from loss of future earning potential, and should be treated as a separate entity. While it is extremely difficult if not impossible to accurately estimate the amount of future medical care one might require, it is the goal of the attorney to win maximum monetary compensation. This amount will ideally cover costs for medical care and treatment until your life returns to “normal,” or as close to how it was before the accident. On the other hand, it is the injured party’s responsibility to mitigate these costs to the best of his or her ability and to do everything possible to recover from the injury. A medical expert may be consulted to ensure that the type of treatment is necessary.

The period covered for future costs begins when the court passes judgment until the client’s death, so the court will attempt to estimate how much treatment and what length of time it will take before the plaintiff resumes life as it was before the accident. To calculate future care, the court will take into consideration the cost of the medication used for treatment thus far, professional fees for medical personnel who are involved in the rehabilitation of the victim, any medical equipment used to help the person perform daily tasks, and the possibility of full recovery from the injury. Higher compensation is expected when the incident results in permanent disabilities because it is not likely they will ever fully recover or resume a normal life. A client will not likely receive any money for future care if it appears he or she is fully recovered, so it is advisable to get a full medical evaluation so you are not plagued by unexpected though related ailments down the road. That is, once the cost of future care has been set and the case closed, it would be nearly impossible to get those expenses covered.


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