Mark L. Heckman, MEd, CRC, LPC, Vocational Employment Consultant ::::
Brandon, a young man, was injured in the hospital examining room during the course of being treated for a concussion that he had sustained while playing basketball as a senior in high school. Two days after the basketball game he was treated at West View and fell face forward while being examined, sustaining a traumatic brain injury, facial fractures, and damaged teeth. Brandon alleged that he would potentially lose the income difference between a Physician (about $220,000/yr.), his pre-accident goal, and a Physical Therapist (about $90,000/yr.), his current major.
Initial review of hundreds of pages of medical, neuropsychological testing, school, and legal documents and records was completed. Records were thoroughly summarized and contained in the initial section of the expert report. Brandon’s pre-accident medical history, which included 4 previous sports-related concussions, fatigue symptoms, a prescription for Percocet, and several orthopedic injuries was also documented in the expert report. Also documented were the differing opinions of the treating Neuropsychologist and Independent Evaluator that the hospital retained. While the treater felt that Brandon had a neurocognitive disorder related to the fall in the hospital examining room (the basis of the lawsuit), the latter opined that Brandon did not give full effort on the tests he administered now, 4 years after the incident, and that his scores were worse than severe TBI patients and those with dementia, mental retardation, and did not fit the circumstances of the accident.
The interview of Brandon found him cooperative. He was currently in his college junior year majoring in the natural sciences with the new goal of becoming a Physical Therapist (PT). He complained of memory issues and was maintaining a 2.81 QPA. Brandon was enjoying special accommodations provided by the university including more time for tests and having a separate and quiet room in which to take tests. He was also working part-time as a receptionist and office clerk on campus.
Expert documentation revealed that even before the alleged head injury, for which he was suing the hospital defendant in the instant matter, he did not have the credentials to successfully attain a Medical Doctor degree. He had scored only average on the ACT college entrance test he took and had a ‘B’ average in high school. Expert documentation showed how difficult it was to be admitted to even second tier medical schools in the U.S. based on average QPA needed, application numbers vs. acceptances, and superior MCAT test scores required by medical schools.
Expert analysis revealed the basis for a less challenging vocational profile based on Brandon’s pre-accident credentials, and different than what Brandon’s vocational expert proffered (which was inflated and not based on reality) and through labor market research that, after he graduated and obtained a Masters, he would be able to attain good paying jobs in his labor market with compensation of more than what a PT earns and approaching an MD salary in research and as a university Biologist (his favorite subject). The result was no actual earnings loss and documentation that their expert team exaggerated his life-time losses (over $3 million) and his pre-accident capability.
Mark L. Heckman, MEd, CRC, LPC is a Vocational Employment Consultant with DJS Associates, and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.