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Using Experts to Assess Future Damages in a Personal Injury Case

In determining damages in an Texas personal injury case, juries can factor in possible lost future earnings and potential future expenses in determining a figure that reflects the actual known damages in a case, as well as probable future damages. Also, those future damages can also be used by negotiating attorneys to help determine an appropriate settlement amount for future pain and suffering.

Determining future damages may involve the use of many expert witnesses, including some of the ones discussed below.

Vocational Experts – These experts can help determine the future earning capacity and work ability of an injured party. They look at various factors of the future work capacity of the claimant, including physical and mental work requirements; national and local labor market trends, changes, and statistics; employment practices and expectations of past or potential employers; and vocational and job skill requirements and transferability issues.

Most of the time, a vocational expert will want to interview the client, and also review tax filings, educational background, personnel files, and other documents to help get a picture of the injured party’s future income capacity.

Forensic Economists – These experts apply economic theories to the facts of a case to determine damages, both past and future. Most of them have a graduate degree in economics.

According to the National Association of Forensic Economists, topics within forensic economics include: (1) the analysis of claims involving persons, workers, firms, or markets for evidence concerning damage liability; (2) the calculation of damages in personal and commercial litigation; and, (3) the development and use of generally accepted forensic economic methodologies and principles.

Certified Life Care Planners – A Life Care Planner typically is a nurse who is specially trained and certified in evaluating the costs of the future health care of a personal injury victim. Their evaluation methods work with the basic principles that funds need to be available to address an individual’s future medical needs, focusing on the prevention of complications and value-added outcomes.

According to the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners, the practitioner of this discipline uses knowledge, judgment and skills based on the principles of biological physiological, behavioral, social and the holistic perspective of nursing science in the development of a Life Care Plan.

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