This is the last blog in our weekly series that has been dedicated to spinal cord injury survivors and National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. Last week, we dispelled myths and stereotypes by answering frequently asked questions regarding spinal cord injuries. Our final post is about the lifetime costs and hidden fees associated with spinal cord injuries.
The Lifetime Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is considered a “catastrophic injury” because it often prevents survivors from holding gainful employment. Fortunately, American courts recognize that SCI survivors may need to pay for ongoing medical treatments, therapy programs, housing or remodeling fees, and various professional care services for the rest of their lives, and award significant damages with these factors in mind.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC), “The average yearly expenses (health care costs and living expenses) and the estimated lifetime costs that are directly attributable to SCI vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history. The below estimates do not include any indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits, and productivity (indirect costs averaged $76,327 per year in 2018 dollars).”
For example, a victim with high tetraplegia is likely to pay $1,129,302 in the first year alone, and then $196,107 for the following years of their life. Comparatively, a survivor with paraplegia may pay about $550,381 in the first year, and $72,090 going forward. That said, it’s estimated that a spinal cord injury survivor will spend over $10 million in injury-related fees throughout their lifetime.
SCI: The Lifetime Costs
The cost of medical care for a SCI survivor depends entirely upon the severity and location of their injury. For instance, the recovery process for survivors with tetraplegia or paraplegia can involve intensive care, diagnostic tests, multiple surgeries, and aggressive physical therapy regimes. In fact, a car accident survivor with severe thoracic or high-cervical nerve injuries can expect to face over $14 million in lifetime medical costs.
Medical expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Emergency care costs
- Intensive care unit fees
- Spinal surgeries
- Medical assessments
- Medications and painkillers
- Issue-specific care services
- Outpatient rehabilitation fees
- Activity-based and restorative therapies
- Medical equipment purchases
- Ventilators, breathing apparatuses, and other equipment
- In-home aids
- Continuing care services
An accidents survivor also needs to consider the “hidden costs” linked to paralysis:
- Home modifications
- Food for specially-modified diets
- Specialized wheelchairs
- Adapted vehicles
- Travel and airfare costs
- Reproductive assistance
- Standing frames
- Adaptive sports equipment
- Entertainment options
An accident survivor with tetraplegia, paraplegia, or another debilitating spinal cord injury needs to consider these lifetime costs before filing a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can calculate the projected value of a plaintiff’s claim and negotiate or litigate on their behalf in court to secure a substantial settlement or verdict. However, after being awarded monetary damages, a plaintiff needs to pay back their insurer before they can start addressing other necessary expenses.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC if You Require Legal Representation
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. For the last month, our team has worked hard to complete these blogs as a means of spreading awareness about SCI and the various challenges survivors face after an accident. As a personal injury firm, we also hope that these blogs conveyed the importance of civil litigation. If you require legal representation now or in the future, please contact our firm to explore your options with an experienced and client-driven legal team. Because we are intimately familiar with the financial hardships SCI victims face, our team is passionately dedicated to helping plaintiffs recover monetary damages that safeguard their standard of living.