To Compel or Not to Compel: When it Comes to Life Care Plans, that is the Question

Under the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, Art. 1464, Order for an additional medical opinion for physical or mental examination of persons states:

            A. When the mental or physical condition of a party, or of a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to an additional medical opinion regarding physical or mental examination by a physician or to produce for examination the person in his custody or legal control, except as provided by law. In addition, the court may order the party to submit to an additional medical opinion regarding an examination by a vocational rehabilitation expert or a licensed clinical psychologist who is not a physician, provided the party has given notice of intention to use such an expert. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made.

            B. Regardless of the number of defendants, a plaintiff shall not be ordered to submit to multiple examinations by multiple physicians within the same field of specialty for the same injury except for good cause shown.

            C. A minor subject to examination under the provisions of this Article shall have the right to have a parent, tutor, or legal guardian present during the examination. (additional language in the Code has been eliminated due to not being relevant to this article)

It is well established that the Vocational Rehabilitation evaluation is subject to this article, which outlines specific guidance for compelling a vocational rehabilitation examination. The article ignores the issue of compelling a Life Care Plan examination. This exact circumstance arises when the defense is seeking a Life Care Plan examination to refute the plaintiff’s Life Care Plan and this request is denied by plaintiff’s counsel. Based on the language and spirit of the law, it should logically follow for the defense to have an opportunity to examine the plaintiff by an expert of their choosing. The law clearly outlined Vocational Rehabilitation experts and clinical psychologists, yet ignores a fairly new area of specialization, the Life Care Planner.  Although the law does not specifically state that one can compel a Life Care Plan examination, it does address the need when it states: “When the mental or physical condition of a party, or of a person…, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to an additional medical opinion regarding physical or mental examination”.

When this article was last amended, Life Care Planning was not so prevalent. Since Life Care Plans have gained wide acceptance in both state and federal jurisdictions, it would seem logical that the courts would consider compelling of Life Care Plan examinations when appropriate. When the condition of a party, including future medical care and the costs associated with such care, is in question, a Life Care Plan evaluation and report can provide the trier(s) of fact with significant guidance.

We offer complimentary consultations concerning "hypothetical matters."

To strategize with one of our vocational or life care plan experts at Stokes & Associates, Inc. please call David Barrett at 504-454-5009, visit our website, www.stokes-associates.com or emaildbarrett@stokes-associates.com.
 

Larry S. Stokes, Ph.D.
Aaron Wolfson, Ph.D.
Lacy Sapp, MHS, CRC, LPC, LRC, CLCP 
Todd Capielano, M.Ed., LRC, CRC, LPC, CLCP

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