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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Life Expectancy

In personal injury and medical malpractice cases, ‘life expectancy’ is an important issue in determining damages. Experts will determine the damages of the plaintiff in reference to the life expectancy of an average individual living under the same conditions. Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average number of years a person hasbefore death, which can be calculated from any specified age.

An expert on life expectancy will be consulted to determine the average number of years the plaintiff is expected to live. www.lifeexpectancy.com is a common source used, but certainly not as good as consulting a live expert. For example, according to the software, Life Expectancy 1.0, the life expectancy in the U.S. for a 58-year-old male in year of injury 1992 is 20.4 years and each year as medicine advances, life expectancy increases about .1 per year. The software allows the generation of a subjective life expectancy based upon a profile created by the user. Using this software, a profile can be created fora specific individual factoring for age, race, height, weight, smoking history, and education. The website also offers articles, one of which finds that the life expectancy of a high functioning traumatic brain injury person is three to five years shorter than for the general population.

Plaintiffs will take the life expectancy and create an expected life span as to the injured party. They will then give this figure to their economist, life care planner, physical medicine and rehab, and other experts to assist in calculating damages. Plaintiffs will generally inflate damages while defendants will generally minimize damages. Plaintiffs will argue for whatever will put them in the most healthy circumstance such as for bi-annual check-ups with their family physician, regular physical therapy, diagnostic testing to monitor cardiac health, various medications, 24-hour home care, and health and strength maintenance in the form of a health club membership. Defendants will argue that if the care/cost that is claimed is not doctor ordered, then it should not be included in damages and likewise, if an ordinary person gets it or Plaintiff would have received the service despite his injury, then it should not be included in damages.

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