Does Each Side In A Personal Injury Case Require Their Own Damage Expert?
Both sides are entitled to have experts for damages. In California, if you have a trial date, the parties must exchange their expert list no later than 50 days before trial. There is also an opportunity to file a supplemental exchange so that each side has experts in each area of specialty if they choose.
What Are The Elements Of Damages Considered By The Economic Expert?
For the economic expert, the elements of damages depend on the damages. For instance, if you are looking at medical bills, in California, there are a couple of case decisions that limit the medical bills to the amount paid, not billed. If you have health insurance and you receive treatment through your health insurance, although the hospital or the doctor may bill, for example, $50,000, if the health insurance company only paid $20,000, that would be the amount of your recovery for the medical bills. There are many cases in which the injured party receives treatment on what is known as a lien basis. In other words, they will go to a doctor, sign a lien, and receive treatment from the doctor. The doctor will then get paid for the services once the case settles or there is a verdict in favor of the injured party.
There is a reasonableness standard for medical bills. Doctors that provide treatment on a lien basis do not accept the same reduction in the billed amount as they do when dealing with health insurance companies generally. The opposing party’s billing experts will challenge the doctor’s bill as unreasonable. Frequently the billing experts will determine if the medical bills are reasonable or if they need to be reduced.
In terms of lost earning capacity, a vocational rehabilitation expert looks at the person’s work history, educational level, and what they could have reasonably anticipated in terms of their career path. They look at the amount of money they would have earned and adjust that by considering their new career path would be due to their injuries. The defendant’s side will get all their data for economic damages experts through discovery.
Who Is Responsible For The Information That The Expert Will Gather And Present To The Court?
The plaintiff’s side primarily generates the information and the defense tends to get most of their information through the discovery process. There is a natural progression of how the information comes about. As the plaintiff receives treatment from the doctors and those doctors’ reports and all the diagnostics are gathered. Then all of that information is provided to the life care planner, the vocational rehabilitation expert, the billing expert. Then those experts begin to formulate their opinions and reports that are finally forwarded to the economist to create a complete damages picture.
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