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When You Need a Vocational Assessment

Author: Gerard Dondero
Date: 08.06.2020 Time to read: 2 min

"Nothing will work unless you do." -Maya Angelou

We already know that a life care plan is a crucial element of your damages case. But the journey to making your client whole is still incomplete. Regardless of who we are, with limited exception, we will still have to find gainful employment to survive in the world. And the injury will have an impact on your client’s future ability to earn income; it will impact their “employability.”

You need an expert witness to first, determine the effect on employability, and second, determine the difference in wages that would have been earned but for the injury and the wages that the client will likely be earning with the injury.

What is a Vocational Assessment?

A vocational assessment is a reliable methodology for determining the change in vocational --- one's ability to work --- status following an injury, which reveals lost earning capacity and wages.

There are four components to the vocational assessment:

  • An interview with the client and review of medical history and recommended future treatment.
  • Vocational testing that will involve standardized tests that vocational expert witnesses use to assess employability. These can include, without limitation:
    • Academic achievement
    • Ability/aptitude
    • Interests/personality
    • Work values
    • Skills assessment
    • Dexterity/coordination
  • Market research; consulting a database to produce information regarding earnings, qualifications, and training requirements for job titles within the client’s geographical area.
  • Integration of the foregoing elements to form a conclusion regarding the monetary difference in value between the client’s pre and post-injury employability.

Capture a More Complete Picture of the Damages

Special damages include future medical damages, but lost earning capacity is another special damage. A life care plan only captures future medicals. The client needs a vocational assessment to maximize their damages claim. The life care plan, however, grounds the vocational assessment. Without the solid health impact documented by a life care plan, the support for the change in vocational status disappears.

Like the life care plan’s future medical damages claims, a vocational assessment’s claims for future lost earning capacity should show that the damages are reasonably certain to occur (this is optional, because courts infer reasonably certainty from the totality of evidence, but it is helpful). The change in vocational status should be reasonably certain, as well as the amount lost due to the change in vocational status.

Any case with a life care plan needs a vocational assessment to maximize damages. Which means that, if life care plans are underutilized in the legal community, vocational assessments are as well. The same reason applies to both life care plans and vocational assessments: high up front costs.

Expertpays frees attorneys from that up front cost and ensures access to a full, supported damages case whenever the attorney needs it.

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