Life Care Planning Helps Attorneys in Many Ways & in All Phases of Litigation! Yes, Really!

Image result for projection cartoonLitigation strategies include many a plan!  

Life Care Planning helps because it becomes a comprehensive document that provides for the future care and associated costs of a person facing a serious illness or injury.

In earlier phases of litigation, a life care plan helps evaluate the potential value of a case. During settlement negotiations, a life care plan helps identify monetary ranges. And of course during trial a life care planner can be critical to your litigation success!

Life Care Planning Services Help Attorneys in Many Ways, Here’s A Few:

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  • Project future cost of care ~ When someone has sustained a life altering injury, trying to determine the correct and fair amount for a settlement is a daunting task. It’s difficult to properly analyze all aspects of an injured party’s condition. A professional life care planner can help you assess the current needs of a patient and project future complications with a systematic approach to analyzing the injured party’s current and future conditions. After analyzing all injury-related documents, interviewing the injured party and communicating with medical professionals, the life care planner will produce a plan that considers future costs in order to ensure a fair and reasonable quality of life. The plan will consider financial, physical, and psychological factors. In the end, you’ll have a thoroughly researched document that will prove bulletproof at settlement conferences and in the courtroom.

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  • Consider likely complications ~ When it comes to catastrophic injuries and long term illnesses, you have to expect the unexpected. Almost undoubtedly, complications will arise in association with the life-altering events somewhere down the road. With that in mind, an experienced life care planner will identify the most likely future complications, allowing all parties involved to understand and adequately provide for these unforeseen circumstances.

  • Expert Testimony* ~ An experienced life care planner provides crystal-clear medical testimony for depositions and trial. Life care planners can accurately and simply describe the injured person’s lifetime of needs and justify the associated costs.      *In Addendum, as a Vocational Expert, I am also qualified to testify on the injured person’s work life and earning capacity.

Able to be customized ~ Not all cases require a full-blown life care plan. However, that doesn’t mean a life care planner can’t help you. The injury or illness doesn’t necessarily have to be catastrophic in order to benefit from future care cost projections. Versatile life care planners offer abbreviated plans for these special situations that allow you to evaluate case value and strategize early on.

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  • Establishes a level playing field ~ Regardless of what side of the fence you stand on, you can benefit from hiring a professional for life care planning services. A life care plan helps all parties know what to expect and thus helps settlements be reached more quickly. A life care planner can aid in strategizing to ensure the best possible outcome. It’s not just a time-saver. It’s a tool that gives you the key insight of one with an understanding of medical needs and the associated costs.

If you represent someone who has suffered a serious injury or illness, or a defendant accused of being responsible for an injury, consider obtaining a life care plan. Doing so will allow you to understand the future care needs of the affected party, which will result in a speedy, fair settlement.

Source for above written article: http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/benefits-of-life-care-planning-in-all-phases-of-litigation-3466273.html  Oct 13, 2010 • By Nancy Fraser

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Contact Amy E. Botkin, a Certified Life Care Planner at 515-282-7753 to discuss how a life care plan can help you to help your client. *I have the expertise to include Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Recommendations, when needed, into a person’s plan, and am trained in expert testimony.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Bring Me, A Life Care Planner, On Board…The Earlier in Litigation, The Better!

Do you represent someone who has suffered a serious injury or illness? Or do you represent a defendant accused of being responsible for an injury? If so, consider obtaining a life care plan! A life care plan can help you evaluate the potential value of a case in early stages of litigation.

I’m a Certified Life Care Planner who can describe the injured individual’s diagnosis, healthcare needs and treatment plan, and provide actual costs. Having this information allows for better strategic decisions on the case.

Empty Chess BoardI will help you make better strategic decisions! Full Chess Board

 

 

Bringing me on board as your life care planner is also useful for non-catastrophic cases. In any legal situation, the earlier the intervention, the greater the likelihood of successful case resolution!

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~ Give me, Amy, a call at 515-282-7753, I’d love to help you help your client ~

Here on my website you’ll find a sample life care plan. Please know I’m in a unique position to prepare these as I’m also a  Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and earned a certificate as a Forensic Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Keep in mind that if your case involves work and disability, my background allows me to include specifics on an individual’s world of work. (Not all life care planners can do this!)

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Also, yes I play chess. I see my queen as the most valuable player. She can move in any direction and as many spaces as she likes. I do everything I can to protect her. The same as I would with your client and your case. Checkmate!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Critiques & Rebuttals…Need One? Rebut No Matter What!

Vocational report writing is a very powerful form of communication and can influence the degree of success for the individual for whom it was written. I’ve written, critiqued and rebutted many reports.  I’m Here to Help! 

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I love to communicate
through the written word! How many people do you know who really love to write reports? I do!!

Let me ask: Have you ever read (or tried to decipher) a vocational report that doesn’t make sense?  Is the report ambiguous and difficult to read? Does the person it was written for understand it? Is it possible the report can be defended? Or should the report be ripped apart, piece by piece to get to its’ nuts and bolts? Want help? Need a critique or a rebuttal?

Image result for nuts and bolts cartoonRebut No Matter What!

Loosen, take apart and re-assemble that poorly prepared report…Will it fall apart or simple wobble on? A poorly prepared report stresses difficulties but doesn’t offer much information about solutions. It talks about weaknesses rather than strengths; deficits and negatives rather than pluses and positives. It seeks to make threats rather than suggest changes. It uses multiple words, unclear statistics, and a slick method to confuse rather than clarify.KeepitSimple

Simply, it’s not helpful to write an entire vocational report about how bad off the person is, especially without mentioning plans to help make a positive impact on the individual’s life.

I love to comb through reports and make all attempts to uncover what the contents say to the reader.  Just because it’s a report doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense! A report still needs to flow, tell a story, describe details and make valid and reasonable conclusions.

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This was my husband’s Grandpa Cliff Yearington’s Bull. Cliff knew a lot about Bulls & Bulls*** too. 

Here’s a sentence commonly found in reports from the same person that I’ve been asked to rebut. [Keep in mind this line comes after results of testing that are not explained at all!]

It is important to note that the purpose of all vocational testing done and reported here is to compare an individual’s current performance with their past performance as documented by their education, training, experience, and the standard worker trait factors associated with that history.

Say what? What does this run-on sentence mean?  The writer is using testing to compare performance? Did the evaluee’s past performance have anything to do with the testing administered? Did this person take the same tests throughout their work history? And then the paragraph continues…

 It is NOT correct to confuse an individual’s current test performance with performance in work prior to injury, as current performance is likely affected by the sequelae of disability.

Okay, now who is confused? The test taker? The person administering the test? I’ll tell you who….the reader!Related image The reader is easily confused by a poorly prepared report! Don’t be a confused reader! It’ll get you nowhere!

My initial question regarding this report scenario, maybe helping to avoid confusion from the get go, is WHY were EACH of the specific testing instruments administered at all to this specific person? What is the rationalization for administration? To be ethically sound, administer testing only with a direct and relative reason to do so. 

I’ve written a professional report about my opinion on ethics and use of testing in vocational evaluations. Please contact me for a copy of the report. If you are my contact on LinkedIn, you’ll find it there readily available for now.

The underlying use of testing results to try to prove a person is permanently and totally disabled raises many ethical questions. Would you want that for yourself?

A test, really, a series of tests that I was forced to take, I didn’t understand, and simply put I didn’t want to take……those results determine my fate? Absolutely ridiculous! Results of testing are meant to assist a person for true and valid reasons…..not to paint a picture of “post injury residual vocational potential”

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Would you like to take ~ 10 tests in a single sitting? No!

Without testing, evaluation is merely speculative

Really now? I’ve helped to place literally hundreds of people without administering testing! And many other placement people do too!

Yes, I use certain standardized tests and self-assessments to help people when it is appropriate for reasons directly related to their placement goals, but that isn’t all I use during a vocational evaluation! I gather knowledge and assess many other areas involving work, interests, skills, aptitudes and lifestyle to help. I do not rely on only the use of test results!

Back to report writing (which I love to do!)  Writing is a very specialized skill; and I continuously study, practice and improve upon my own skills. As a professional writer, I never stop training! I think I gained natural talent from my Grandpa Jack, a journalist!

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When I’m writing, I get very absorbed! My office cat will testify to that!

Again, do you need a critique or a rebuttal? Have you recently read (or tried to decipher) a report that doesn’t make sense?  I’m Your Person to Help!

If your opinion on a case doesn’t mesh at all with the report on your desk, please contact me to help sort out the discrepancies. Keep in mind, I know opinions are just that, opinions.  And reports are meant to answer questions, not raise more!

I also want you to keep in mind that if you believe in the truth, there’s a way to show it. Contact me for expert testimony and witness services, too! Oh, and I definitely can rebut a life care plan as well! Thank you for reading this lengthy post!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

The Proof is in the Pudding…Try Avocado Chocolate! And A Life Care Plan for Your Client!

Consider how a Life Care Plan can help your litigated case, especially when the proof is in the pudding.  The ‘proof’ here is a verb meaning ‘test’ and a noun meaning ‘the evidence that demonstrates a truth’ – as in a mathematical or legal proof.  To know if a plan has succeeded, consider the true value or quality of it, as seen when it is experienced, tried, or put to use.

PuddingInterested in a life care plan for your client?

One recent case where I prepared a life care plan helped attain a $3.43 million settlement and judgment in a catastrophic personal injury case. Another plan I wrote helped to reach a $1.5 million award in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

I repeat, interested in a life care plan for your client?

Pudding

As a certified life care planner I will prepare a reasonable plan and I will expend whatever time needed to do a fully competent job. As an added benefit, how about including vocational rehabilitation consulting in a plan? That’s where my forte’ lies!

A plan can take upwards of six months to prepare, depending on the case. By taking the story directly from the patient with input from the family, my subsequent reports and expert testimony become viewed as genuine in front of a judge or a jury. The goal is to zero in on the specific needs and costs of the individual’s healthcare future.

With your input or agreement with my report to be sure we understand everything, I will help you be well equipped to persuade others about the bottom line of your case. And it can be significant because when preparing a plan, I will carefully consider the client’s life and how it has been impacted.

Third time here, interested in a life care plan for your client?   Pudding

I can help you to help your client.  The proof of the pudding for a business is also what customers say about it! I have references available to find out what customers say about my work in the areas of life care planning, as well as in my professional work in other areas, including my writing capabilities.  Pudding

The proof of the pudding for a plan is also what transpires when it is followed by the individual for whom it was written. You’ll find I truly care about what I do and can provide references who will attest to my ethics, research capabilities and the value that I can bring to a case involving work and disability.Money Centerpiece

A Life Care Plan can truly become the centerpiece of your client’s claim!

Because each case is unique, to help identify the level of service for your case, a 15 minute complementary consultation can be arranged. Subsequently, a preliminary assessment of the time-frame a plan could take to prepare can then be offered that helps outline the projected costs which can be anywhere from 40 – 80 hours, not including expert testimony preparation and witness time.

Keep in mind the necessity to schedule an in person meeting and follow-up visits with the individual and his/her family. Contacts involving his/her treating physician and other members of the healthcare team are made as well over the course of preparing a plan.

Pudding

Now, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” means that you don’t really know your dessert has come out right until you taste it. Seriously, try this pudding! It’s yummy and healthy! Easy to make too! Avocado

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Prep Time: 2 minutes Total Time: 5 minutes Yield 2-3 services Serving Size ½ cup

  • 2 ripe medium avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup milk (regular or almond milk, coconut, etc.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender, food processor or using a hand held beater or mixer. Serve immediately or chill first. Eat with a lovely spoon!

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Contact me, Amy E. Botkin at 515-282-7753 for a life care plan because I have studied it, experienced it and continue on my journey growing as an expert in my field. An expert is someone who has enough knowledge to help others confidently! And, darn it all, I like it and I’m good at it!  (Arr Arr! )  If you’d like more information, let me know!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

What Did Your Grandfather’s Father Do for a Living? Need Evidence on An Occupation?

My mother Ann Dodge Prochnow, researched a book titled “Genealogy of the Dodge Family of Essex County, Massachusetts 1629-1894” authored by John Thompson Dodge Ph.D. Dr. Dodge was born in 1850 in Vermont. Dr. Dodge was a railway civil engineer. And he’s directly related to my mom!

My mom read the book (Ann’s brother Gerry Dodge accessed it for her online). It clearly took a lot of work, but my mom (with great speed, skill and accuracy of course!), typed several pages summarizing her research; and gave me a copy as a Christmas gift! I read it with fascination! While reading my mom’s paper, I heard myself saying hum, wow; and really?…and laughing a time or two!

Genealogy Book Cover Tree

It’s exciting to learn about a family’s genealogy!

Here’s my synopsis of my mom’s synopsis:

The Dodge’s are all direct descendants from Richard Dodge who was born in 1602.  My mom’s great-grandfather is Vilas Luther Dodge, born October 28, 1847 in Vermont. Vilas worked as a farmer and stock raiser in Jersey County, Illinois. He was County Supervisor and School board member, and also Director of Jersey County Agriculture and Mechanical Association. He was 5’9’ and 200 pounds! (sounds shaped kindly like someone I know….)

Vilas married Laura Dannel on February 21, 1871. Vilas and Laura had children born in Kemper, Illinois: Mary born in 1871, infant son born and died in 1872, George Dannell (my mother’s grandfather) born July 21, 1876, Ann Charlott born 1978, Fred Leroy (my mom’s Uncle Fred) born 1881 and Harriet (my mom’s Aunt Hattie) born 1886.

Genealogy of Dodge Family Book CoverThe Book Cover

George Dannell Dodge married my mom’s grandma Helen Porter in Jerseyville, Illinois in 1907 and moved to Chicago. There they had William, John Vilas (my grandpa), Helen and Laura. Later they moved to Evanston, Illinois. All their children attended Northwestern University. George died in Jerseyville in 1960s and Helen in her 90s in New York.

My grandpa Jack married Jean. They had Ann (my #1 Mom), John, Gerald and Kathleen.  By the way, Mom and Gerald (my Uncle Gerry who lives in San Francisco) are planning to get to the Plate side of Jean’s family in the future.

Throughout these years in history, the men of the Dodge name held many jobs with professions spanning many fields (read on below please…).

My grandpa John (“Jack”) Vilas Dodge was an incredible man and had an amazing career that took him all over the world! He worked in writing, as a publishing executive. I am very proud to be one of his grand-daughters! Mom tells me that her dad’s father had an insurance agency and his father’s father did too! (I need to talk more with mom or Gerry Dodge and get more detail!)

For my blog, I focus on colleges the Dodge family graduated from; and occupations employed by the Dodge family throughout the generations:

College graduates were from Harvard, Williams, Yale, Middleburg, Dartmouth, Colby, Vermont, Wisconsin, Amherst, Bowdoin, Brown, Columbia, Anion, Andover and Emory. Graduates included a few women!

Austin Hall, Harvard Law School Picture

Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

Occupations included: Farmer, carpenter, teacher, physician, lawyer, tailor, tanner, minister, legislator, shoemaker, shipping business, cooper, factory owner, cabinetmaker, blacksmith, mason, currier, leather dealer, stone cutter, stock breeder, clothier, editor, military service, insurance agent, constable, cotton manufacturer, banker, merchant, bookkeeper, newspaper business, lumber business, land surveyor, steamboat captain, harness maker, musician, and civil engineer. Pretty incredible careers  during this time!

Do for A Living

Lawyer, Teacher, Physical Therapist, Registered Nurse, Doctor, Accountant, Social Worker, Paralegal, Psychologist, Dentist, Engineer, Police Officer…..Chef! All Incredible Careers! 

I had to look up one job (not found  in O*NET but guess what, it is in the DOT!)….a cooper. A cooper is someone in the trade of making utensils, casks, drums and barrels and other accessories, usually out of wood, but sometimes using other materials. In other words, the cooper used many tools to do his work, he had craftsman skills with a keen eye for detail and a focus on quality control! I could consult with Living History Farms for a job analysis!

Plus I wanted to know the difference between work as a currier (a specialist in the leather processing industry) and  that of a tanner (a person whose occupation is to tan hides, or convert them into leather by the use of tan) so I looked it up! I’ve toured a tanning facility with my eyes bugging out at the strength needed by the tanners to throw the hides! In this case, what I could do is interview with a person who actually does the heavy work to get first hand information!

Heart

I love assessing  worker skills! I love researching workplace environments! I love analyzing jobs! I love interviewing workers! I love my work!

As far as the numerous other occupations held by the Dodges, they range greatly. The Dodges used brain power, brawn power and the power to influence others (for example: attorney, banker, musician, steamboat captain, physician, engineer, insurance agent, legislator minister and …. clothier!) They used all types of machinery, hand tools and up-to-date-for-that-time technology. The tools of any trade are tremendous! The talent from performing daily work and the credibility in a community becomes tantamount to a successful career. Boy would I have loved to interview any one of these talented individuals!

A Clothier

A Clothier Was Popular…Dapper Indeed!

I am completely fascinated by what people do for a living! If I can help you with your litigated cases, please let me know. Thank you for reading.

Take some precious time and check into your parent’s parents’ work background. You well have well spent your time and you may be quite surprised! I was with the Dodge family that helped to form part of who I am! (Guess which part and win a prize!)

Bonus: Do You Love Your Work? Why?

Contact me, Amy (Prochnow) Botkin for vocational guidance or evidence on any occupation or career!  BTW, I don’t believe there were many forensic rehabilitation counselors back in the day…..which always brings to my mind the mystery of the working world.

Vocational Resources Plus LLC        515-282-7753 VocResources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Want to Buy Some TIME From Me…an Educator and a Counselor?

You’re a good attorney, and you care about the people you represent. You’re also busy and spend a lot of time on time. In fact, you even buy TIME. And, I’m writing to help you make a more comfortable purchase from me!

MoneyTime

I fully realize attorneys buy TIME

Time – Because you bill by the hour (and so do I), I promise to help you be more productive and, thus, more successful by providing value laden services.

Pinky SwearI promise to always respect your time.

 

Information – Because I totally understand why you HATE looking stupid (and so do I), I will provide accurate information that you want or need.

Pinky SwearI promise to always ensure you have a good reason for working with me.

 

Money – Because saving money and making money are the goals for almost every law firm (and for every consulting firm too), I will effectively use all the resources available to help with your case.

Pinky SwearI promise to be accurate and fair with my billing.

 

Education – Because lawyers always need continuing education (and so do I) to maintain your license, I am available to present to any group that would benefit from learning about work and disability. In addition, as I’m an educator and a counselor, I can help you and your clients in many ways.

Pinky SwearI promise to bring new light to your litigation strategies.

 

Time on HandsHow much TIME would you like to have on your hands…especially when working on a complex case that has to do with work and disability? So there it is!  But wait, there’s more

I, Amy, promise to Always Be True at My Core, Apple Butterflybecause that’s all I have ever had and have ever needed! And I’m willing to share.

Enjoy a piece of quality fruit (preferably on an empty stomach!) and then give me, Amy E. Botkin, a call to discuss your case. 515-282-7753

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Employment Discrimination and Help With a Litigation Fix!

As a vocational expert, I can help sort out the consequences of employment discrimination cases in many ways and from “both sides of the fence”. What does that phrase mean to you?  To me, it means I will be fully instrumental to help serve your client without falling off and hurting the case because I have a full grasp of what I’m on to. To accomplish this goal, I balance and use all my instincts and brain power….kinda like a cat!

Black Cat on FenceCat’s tails are instrumental in balance!

Cats’ tails serve as a counterbalance when cats walk on narrow spaces, such as fences. However, one of my felines from long ago, (Max 1987 – 2002) was a Manx, henceforth no tail but he was well able to manage cat life with his strong body shape in every way! I asked my vet, and yes, even cats with amputated tails have proven to re-learn how to balance.

Employment discrimination cases need plenty of proof and evidence. Loss of salary, loss of benefits, and lengthy unemployment can be quantified pretty easily. Other issues are more difficult to assert. For example, if there is a claim the loss of job adversely impacts income and questions surface regarding economic realities, I can help with educating the individual on how to engage in a meaningful and productive job search, or I can assess the extent, quality, and reasonableness of a current job search. It is important to keep employer attitudes towards hiring an individual terminated from previous employment in mind.

Further, I can help to determine the impact on earnings potential and perform a vocational assessment and evaluation that provides data such as ~

  • the number, types, and wage level of jobs available prior to the discriminatory action
  • vocational options following the discrimination or termination
  • local job availability and wages and benefits associated with those jobs

I can also help uncover whether or not a good cause for termination of employment existed. That’s why documenting real time employer comments become helpful to sort out the nuances of the case. I’ll take a deep look at a behavior or situation that any reasonable person agrees would warrant discharge. I can help determine the ramifications of ~

  • Work performance and productivity
  • Attendance
  • Violation of work policies and rules
  • Dishonesty
  • Endangerment of health and safety*
  • Illegal conduct
  • Insubordination
  • Personality/attitude problems
  • Poor interaction with subordinates.

*If disability is involved in the case, under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I of the ADA), I can assess for reasonableness and identify reasonable accommodations. Keep in mind I believe that for every disability there is some form of assistive technology to allow continued employment.

If necessary, I can provide expert testimony to help prove the loss of job was or was not reasonable. Do you have a case where I might help? Give me a call and let’s talk about your case. I hope you’ll find our conversation interesting! And if you like cats, let me know why. And if you don’t like ‘em, I’d really want to know why!

DudeCats have other unique advantages besides their beloved/not so loved personalities.

If falling (which doesn’t happen much based on my own personal cat ownership research) a cat’s head twists to inform the brain exactly how to restore alignment in a millisecond and a perfect landing is guaranteed!

16 Claws

 

If a cat falls from a porous surface, sixteen hooked claws do their work in an instant!

Do I have you more interested in cats or my work as a vocational expert!?!

Felix Feeling Loving 5-30-2010

Felix (2002 – 2015)

I very much miss my Felix. As mostly a cool outdoor cafe’ kitty, you were quite a lover! Felix shared his feline life with me through many a fix (both his and mine).

Keep me (and Felix with his secret bag of tricks) in mind to help in dangerous situations. I definitely can help your case through a litigation fix!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Central Value of Consulting with Me…What You’ll Find!

I provide forensic vocational rehabilitation consulting services that focus on life care planning and placement. My goal as a consultant is to work with attorneys with passion; those who truly care about their clients.

You’ll find we make a nice pair when we focus on your client!

Life care planning involves identifying and facilitating health care recommendations so complications to daily living are minimized. Placement involves valuable counseling sessions and access to creative resources so obstacles to return to work are circumvented.

Please take your time to review information about my professional services. Life care planning and forensic rehabilitation counseling are unique to vocational rehabilitation. That’s why I chose to work in this field! It takes a lot of knowledge yet common sense to truly help others.

Work Hard Stay HumbleYou’ll find I work hard for you and just as hard for your client!

If you, Attorney Person, need help with how to quantify AND qualify an individual’s earnings capacity within a life care plan, I am the consultant you need.

I believe work is central to the existence of adult functioning. It provides funds needed to live and supplies status and security for an individual. You’ll find value in how I approach my own work in a qualitative way. You’ll see I’m grounded in neutrality, sincerity and resolve to never give up until the facts make sense.

Ask some questions and learn what I, Amy E. Botkin, can do to help.

Amy Pic 9-29-15

You’ll receive a humble reply!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Using Vocational Rehab Experts and Life-Care Planners to Prove General Damages

This is a great article, by quite a super lawyer from what I’ve read, based from Santa Monica CA. Please read on!

Using Vocational Rehab Experts and Life-Care Planners to Prove General Damages by Geoffrey S. Wells

The use of a vocational rehabilitation expert and a life-care planning expert is even more important today than it has been in the past. This is due in part to the jury’s overall skepticism on general damage awards. It is not uncommon today to hear a juror during jury selection say something to the effect that “I have no problem awarding damages that are actually provable, such as lost wages or medical costs in the past and the future, but I have a real problem with pain and suffering damages.” The plaintiff lawyer’s ability therefore to provide actual economic numbers for the jurors is more important today than it has ever been in the past.

Vocational rehabilitation. The use of a vocational rehabilitation expert should be implemented anytime your clients have permanent injuries that either impair their ability to do their old jobs or impair their ability to do any job. One of the most important aspects of a good vocational rehabilitation plan is assessing the loss of earning capacity. The loss of earning capacity is not just the loss of a particular job, but it is the inability to be able to earn what a person would have been capable of earning had he or she never been hurt. Many defense lawyers gloss over the lost earning capacity component of the vocational rehabilitation plan. I think it is very important that the jury understands through the testimony of your expert the whole issue of lost earning capacity.

Assessing lost earnings where a person can no longer work is easy, and I am not going to discuss it in this article. The difficult part of assessing lost earnings comes into play when your client can do some things, but not other things. Additionally, the real issue comes into play when the defense argues, through their defense vocational rehabilitation expert, that your client actually can earn more money post-accident than they would have earned if the accident had not happened at all. Once you get past the emotional frustration of having to address this argument, you need to have a game plan on how to attack it.

I am going to use a specific case example where you have a client who has average to above-average intelligence and who has been working in some type of physical job such as construction his or her whole life. Post-accident, the client can no longer do physical work. The defense vocational rehabilitation expert does testing. The results of that testing show that the individual can now work as a computer programmer and is going to be the next Bill Gates, earning two or three times as much as he or she did doing construction. How do you handle this argument? The answer – it depends on the client.

I represented a cement finisher who worked in the construction industry doing everything from parking lots to the Staples Center. He suffered a bad fall and received debilitating injuries to both of his ankles and legs in the fall. The defense vocational rehabilitation expert had him becoming a computer programmer in an office, earning two times as much money as he ever did as a cement finisher. The problem with the defense assessment is that no one ever asked the client how he felt about working in an office behind a desk all day. I asked him, and he told me he would rather jump off a bridge than be locked up in a building all day. He told me that he had been in construction his whole life and that he loved being a cement finisher. He considered himself an artist and showed me pictures of all the different structures around Los Angeles that he had worked on. These included the Staples Center, among others. He told me he would never last in an office behind a desk.

In response to this defense assessment, I had my vocational rehabilitation expert assess the psychological component of the job market placement options for my client. My expert agreed that there was no way my client would ever be an office guy, and he explained this in his report. Many jurors who work with their hands outdoors completely understand the whole psychological component of the job market placement.

When discussing damages for lost earning capacity, I think it is important to make the case that your client is not just some statistic, but that he or she is unique and that any assessment must take into consideration the individual’s life and life experiences. In the case of the cement finisher, my vocational rehabilitation expert assessed him as someone who had the ability to be a foreman. The problem was that whenever there is a job being poured and something goes wrong, the foreman must have the experience and ability to get into the cement and help out. Since he was unable to do this, it was obvious that he would be unable to ever work in that area again. This substantially increased his lost earnings and lost earning capacity numbers in the case.

Many variations of the above-depicted scenario can be used in your cases. One of the important components to consider is that before your client is examined and tested by your own vocational rehabilitation expert, that you meet with the client and get a feel for him or her and the person’s life experience so that you understand those components before he or she is tested. Then, share your thoughts with your vocational rehabilitation expert.

Life-care planning. Another area of economic damages is the area of the cost for future medical care or what is known as life-care planning. In order to provide an assessment for life-care planning, you need to hire a life-care planner. The life-care planner helps determine the lifetime needs and costs of care for the chronically or catastrophically injured person. The life-care plan incorporates a complete approach to depicting the client’s medical, psychiatric, psychological, behavioral, educational, vocational and social needs. The life-care plan also incorporates the individual’s recovery process as well as his or her current problems, and future problems that may be inherent with a particular disability. The life-care plan serves as a guide for the client’s treating physicians and family members who will be involved with the client’s care for the rest of his or her life.

One of the key components of any life-care plan is that it is geared towards preventative medicine that will help minimize any deterioration of the client’s individual condition. A well thought-out life-care plan provides scientific and credible evidence to depict future medical needs of the client in the given case.

The key basis for any life-care plan is that your life-care planning expert be provided with all of your client’s medical records, reports, tests etc. Additionally, I think it is even more important now that your life-care planner also have the opportunity to review all the treating doctor depositions, as well as your client’s deposition. Additionally, where possible, you should make arrangements for your life-care planning expert to have discussions with and get approval from your client’s treating doctors as to the proposed life-care plan.

The areas of cross examination by the defense on any lifecare plan focus in on the fact that the lifecare planner did not discuss any of the proposed plan items with any of the plaintiff’s treating doctors. You should take this away from the defense by setting up or requesting that your life-care planner discuss the plan with the treating doctors. It is important to get the treating doctors’ blessings to am of the life-care plan areas that pertain to the specific speciality of the treating doctors. Additionally, if you list your treating doctors as non-retained experts in your expert designation, you can call them at trial and have them confirm the need for portions of the life-care plan.

Another area for cross-examination by the defense is always the area that is the biggest ticket item, which is the attendant or level of nursing care required by your client. I think it is very important to get the treating physicians on board early with your life-care planner as to the necessity of the attendant care and the type of care that is required. There is at least one defense expert out there in the market now who claims under oath that the level of care does not matter with respect to life expectancy from a statistical standpoint. If you have a severely or catastrophically injured client, one of the areas the defense will attempt to attack is the life expectancy of your client.

This is particularly true where you have a client who has either a gastrointestinal tube and/or tracheotomy requirement. In order to try to rebut the shortened life expectancy with the presence of these items, I think it is a good idea to get the treating doctors on board as to their opinions regarding life expectancy with good care. You want to make your client more than just some statistic – you want to show that your client with good care can live a long time, thereby necessitating long-term, good care.

After the life-care planner prepares a detailed matrix of all the various items required, you want to be sure that both the life-care planner and any treating doctors agree that the likelihood that your client will need these items is at least 5 1 percent probability; i.e., the same as reasonably medically probable.” Many times the defense will get an unsuspecting treating doctor to say that certain items on your life-care plan are only possible, as opposed to reasonably medically probable. I would suggest that you want to avert this trap laid by the defense by meeting with the doctors ahead of time and explaining to them the difference legally between something that is possible and something that is medically probable. These opinions can make the difference between getting a poor recovery and a great recovery for your client.

Source:  November 26, 2007    The Advocate Magazine (CAALA)       http://workinjury.com/articles/d-549.htm [This article is reprinted, with permission, from The Advocate Magazine, Volume 34, Number 11, a monthly publication of the Journal of Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles.]  [Although dealing with jury trials and civil litigation, it is quite relevant to third-party workers’ compensation claims, as well as understanding how useful these experts can be in general.]

 

Red PoppyThank you for reading, now please call me, Amy E. Botkin at 515-282-7753.  I’m based out of Des Moines, IA; just as gorgeous a place as any!

I’m well-trained in voc rehab and in life care planning, and completely ready to help you help your client!                 

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

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A plan offers information to help your litigated case move along. As a certified life care planner, I guarantee I’ll prepare the most comprehensive plan I can for your client.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.