How an Occupational Therapist Can Help Personal Injury Lawyers Achieve a Favourable Settlement
If you or a loved one sustains a serious injury as a result of negligence from another party, you may need to employ a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer works to ensure you receive proper compensation for your injury, including funds to support your resulting medical expenses and maintain your quality of life.
To receive a fair settlement, your personal injury lawyer must help you accurately demonstrate and explain the impact the injury has had on your life. Your physical pain and suffering may be the factor that immediately comes to mind, but it is only one of many.
For some of the other factors, I have found that the expertise of an occupational therapist (OT) is invaluable for truly understanding and quantifying how the injury has impacted my clients’ lives.
What Is an Occupational Therapist?
An occupational therapist is a healthcare practitioner whose main focus is helping injured or disabled clients achieve functional goals and improve their overall quality of life.
OTs will perform a comprehensive assessment of your life before the injury or disability, and the difficulties you are now having after your accident or illness. They develop programs to help you maintain, restore, or increase your ability to care for yourself and engage your regular activities of living (work, home life, school, hobbies, etc.). Their goal is to get your life as much back to “normal” as possible while you undergo treatment and healing.
For example, they may suggest modifications for your environment (your home, your workplace, etc.) to better accommodate the injury or disability.
With an OT’s insight, I am better able to quantify the impact the injury has had on your life.
Damages an Occupational Therapist Can Help Quantify
Here are some of the aspects I am able to closely quantify with the aid of an OT:
- Economic Loss
Is my client able to continue working with their injury? Has it affected their ability to work as effectively or for extended periods of time?
For example, if my client typically worked overtime before the accident but is now unable to sustain that type of prolonged work, they are experiencing a loss of income. Even if the client is back to regular hours, but they are unable to do the 10hr/week of overtime they had done in the past, they experience economic loss.
- Attendant Care
Does my client require the assistance of others, whether they are personal support care workers, family members, or friends, to assist with personal care and other home safety issues?
- Medication Costs
Does my client take pain killers to cope with the injury? Costs for medication, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, these costs factor into damage calculations.
Can my client perform housekeeping activities in the same manner as before? Will they have to hire a housekeeper to take care of certain tasks?
For example, a rotator cuff injury may make changing light bulbs painful because of the reaching motion required, or vacuuming difficult because of the vibration.
- Other Pecuniary Loss Claims
“Pecuniary” refers to losses that can be quantified in terms of money. Costs for the “small things” begin to add up substantially in personal injury cases. For example, I quantify the money my clients spend on gas to and from their medical appointments. If they had not been injured, they would not have had to spend that money on travel.
As you can see, there are a great number of damages to consider when fighting for a fair settlement. However, if your personal injury lawyer does not know about your lifestyle changes since the accident, they cannot use them in your case.
An OT not only helps provide understanding of a patient’s situation – they also provide documentation as a medical professional. Medical records are a powerful tool to demonstrate your circumstances in a settlement meeting, mediation, or the courtroom.
A lawyer who takes the time to quantify every bit of damage can get you the best settlement possible and ease your financial burden as you recover from injury.
>> Roger R. Foisy is an experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer. If you have sustained an injury at another party’s fault, please do not hesitate to contact Roger and his team for a free consultation.
*Roger R. Foisy is not a medical professional. The advice in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.
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