Life Expectancy Tables and Catastrophic Accidents
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Wed Feb 2017
You or your loved one may have been involved in a catastrophic accident. There is no dispute that a lifetime of care is anticipated. Life expectancy tables are a valuable tool when it comes to catastrophic injuries. They are important for placing a number on damages.
What do we mean when we use the term catastrophic injuries? According to the American Medical Association, they include a number of life-changing permanent disabilities. Injuries may involve the spine, the spinal cord, or the brain. A severe skull injury or spinal fracture could fall into this category of long-term disability. What makes an injury catastrophic is the expectation that recovery will take a long time. In some cases, the probability that the accident victim will never fully recuperate is a distinct possibility.
The Role of Life Expectancy Tables
Before you can understand the role of life expectancy tables for personal injury cases, you should have a clear understanding of what they represent. They are also referred to as actuarial life tables. You can review a sample table here, as used by the Social Security Administration.
The New Jersey Rules of Court contains its own version of a Life Expectancy Table. Both attorneys and judges use this a reference when attempting to settle or charge large-scale personal injury cases to the jury. The source of this information is from National Vital Statistics Reports.
It absolutely sounds morbid. A life expectancy table is designed to evaluate mortality. Some even refer to the data as a mortality table as a more direct approach. Let’s face it. If your injuries were catastrophic and you require a lifetime of care, the insurance company needs some guidance concerning how long you might live.
How are these figures derived? The tables are based on statistical research. Your age, gender, and race may all be factors in determining your life expectancy. The numbers are used to calculate how much the insurance company will voluntarily pay to you. Or, the data may be reviewed by an economist who may present a report based on life expectancy.
A number of issues regarding catastrophic injuries can be addressed in conjunction with life expectancy tables. Here are the basics:
- Number of years that victim will require medical treatment
- Calculation of loss of earnings
- Potential for future surgeries related to your condition
Let’s look at an exemplary case. Martin is 33 years old and became paralyzed as a result of a motorcycle accident. The person driving the car that sent Martin’s motorcycle into the air was convicted of drunk driving. Liability is not an issue for this accident.
Martin will require a lifetime of care. After quickly reviewing the Life Expectancy Table in the New Jersey Court Rules, it appears that Martin is expected to live another forty-eight years. This number will be useful in calculating damages for Martin’s case.
If you or a loved one was involved in a serious accident of any type, you should seek experienced legal counsel. The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo has the resources to handle catastrophic injury cases. We can meet with you at a location of your choice. Contact us to schedule an appointment.