Life expectancy tables provide key information in evaluating some personal injury cases. The tables give a statistical perspective, a number, telling us how long any given human being can be expected to live. One of the most often overlooked elements of a personal injury case calculates long term potential damages beyond the date a release is signed.
Sometimes it’s simple. An injury may have residual effects for perhaps a year after the accident. Armed with medical documentation relating residual to the initial injury, experienced personal injury attorneys attach a fair dollar amount.
Calculating Permanent Loss with Life Expectancy
But, where permanent loss of function, reduced range of motion or other long-lasting medical conditions exist, that’s where the life tables apply. The tables rank people by age, gender and race and then give a life expectancy.
The tables change annually. In one chart a 23 year old white female’s life expectancy is calculated at 58.1 years. That number is plugged into a formula based on extent of loss to ballpark value that element of the case.
Cost of Medical Care and Life Expectancy
Future medical treatment presents another post release financial element. It might be simple. The cost of future surgery to remove pins inserted into a fracture plus postoperative care present relatively hard numbers.
But arriving at a dollar amounts often presents issues. Where future medical care is anticipated to treat medically documented potential for early onset of arthritis, actual medical costs are tougher to pin down.
In substantial personal injury claims including those where the injured sustains chronic disabilities such as spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy, extensive care is needed for a lifetime. Life expectancy is part of the calculation. One complication is that all cases settle in the present. So, the calculation needs to be made now.
Present value of care over a lifetime is determined weighing several factors including a discount rate figuring the interest rate that will grow the present lump sum based on proper investment of settlement funds. Cost of care and the probability that the plaintiff will live to an average expectancy are other factors.
Other categories of damages related to residuals are negligently shortened life expectancy and diminution of loss of quality of life. Again, life expectancy is a multiplier in determining final settlement.
Life Expectancy Sources
Life expectancy tables usually admitted in court are those published by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics of the United States. Other life tables are produced by some states themselves, the Social Security Administration and the insurance industry.
Do Not Do This At Home
This informational summary only touches on calculating long term potential damages. Often, those who try to settle their own cases fail to see beyond the present. If they do, there’s rarely adequate documentation or calculation of long term issues.
Signing a release ends a case. So, in any injury negligence case it is highly recommended that an experienced personal injury attorney be retained to do it right the first, and only, time.