Mesa AZ | Personal Injury attorney Brian T. Allen discusses the concept of life expectancy and why it could be important to your personal injury claim:
In October of 2014, USA Today reported that the estimated life expectancy of people living in the United States hit a new record high: 78.8 years per person. This is great news…but you might be wondering why I am discussing life expectancy in a blog about personal injury law. I bring up life expectancy because it could become an important component of your personal injury claim.
If you bring a personal injury claim, and your claim goes to trial, at the end of the trial you (or your attorney) will ask the jury to do at least two things: 1) find the defendant at fault for your injury; and, 2) grant you an award of money to compensate you for your injury and, possibly, punish the defendant. The latter is called an award of damages. Just like you must offer proof to the jury that the defendant is at fault for your injury, you must also prove your damages. You might offer proof of medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, inability to enjoy life to its fullest, etc.
In certain cases, the jury might also consider your estimated life expectancy. Life expectancy is especially important in personal injury cases that have to do with a permanent injury. Let’s imagine an example. Imagine your arm is badly broken in a car accident caused by another driver. You have to go in for surgery, but the healing process is quick and there is no permanent damage. In a claim against the other driver, you might seek an award of damages that covers the total of your medical expenses for treatment and surgery.
Now, let’s imagine that your broken arm did result in a permanent injury. Your doctor tells you that the surgery was only partially successful, and that you will have to come in for examinations and adjustments at least once a month for the rest of your life in order to maintain full function of your arm. You find out that the adjustments will be very costly. Now, in a claim against the other driver you might seek an award of damages that will cover your current medical bills as well as your future medical expenses related to the adjustments. In order to grant an award related to your future medical expenses related to your permanent injury, the jury will need an estimate of how long you will live.
In a personal injury trial in Arizona, the judge will likely give the jury your estimated life expectancy and then instruct the jury that it is to use the estimate to calculate damages related to your permanent injury. The estimated life expectancy the judge will give to the jury derives from a life expectancy table found in the National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 61, No. 3, dated September 24, 2012. You can review a copy of the table on the last two pages of Arizona’s Revised Civil Jury Instructions related to Personal Injury Damages. Age is the table’s first column, and estimated remaining years of life is the last column. Using the table, you can find the estimated life expectancy the jury will use in your case. For example, if you were 42 ½ at the time of your injury, the judge will tell the jury it should estimate you will live another 39.1 years. In that scenario, if the medical bills related to your permanent injury total $1,200 per year the jury might reasonably award you $46,920 to cover your future expenses.
Depending on your situation, life expectancy may be an important aspect of your personal injury claim. If you have further questions, or wish to inquire about how best to use life expectancy in a personal injury claim related to a permanent injury, please give us a call.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Life Expectancy, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at 480.461.5335, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.