When it comes to serious injuries, few have as devastating a potential to upend lives as those involving the spine and spinal cord. The human spinal cord is the most important structure between the body and the brain, and it is filled with nerves, tissues, and support cells. These structures provide the primary pathway that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, and it is essential to the way we live our day to day lives.
Although the spinal cord is incredibly important to how human’s function, it is also susceptible to being injured, especially as a result of trauma and sudden blows that can occur during car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and falls. When the spinal cord is injured, it can necessitate serious medical intervention and aggressive, long-term rehabilitation. In the most severe types of injuries, it can cause permanent impairment and loss of function in certain parts of the body.
At Shrager & Sachs, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers have helped numerous clients after they suffered catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries (SCI). Because the nature of spinal cord injuries can impact victims and their loved ones in profound ways, we always work to secure the maximum compensation possible. We know this compensation is essential to not only a victim’s sense of justice and emotional losses, but also to the real and substantial costs that living with a spinal cord injury can have.
How a spinal cord injury will financially impact victims in the years following their injuries depends on a number of unique factors, including:
- The type of injury suffered
- The age of a victim
- A medical professional’s prognosis
- Extent of impairment or paralysis
In the initial stages of a spinal cord injury (within the first year of the injury), medical expenses can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases approach or exceed six figures. During this time, doctors and specialists perform a great deal of evaluation, monitoring, and in some cases intervention, and victims are often required to stay in the hospital for long periods of time. Even as victims recover and begin to repair their lives or learn to live with the permanent impact of a spinal cord injury, costs can still be extensive.
The Christopher and Diane Reeve Foundation, which compiles many resources for spinal cord injury victims and families, generally estimates the costs of living with SCI after the first year:
- High Tetraplegia – $185,000 annually
- Low Tetraplegia – $114,000 annually
- Paraplegia – $69,000 annually
- Incomplete motor function – $42,000 annually
As the data makes clear, spinal cord injuries have a significant financial impact on an annual basis. While these figures may be high in and of themselves, it is also important to consider the age at which a victim suffers the injury, as it can change lifetime expected costs. For example, a 25-year-old that suffers a spinal cord injury can expect the following estimated lifetime costs:
- High Tetraplegia – $4.8 million
- Low Tetraplegia – $3.5 million
- Paraplegia – $2.3 million
- Incomplete motor function – $1.6 million
These figures only take into account the medical costs and expenses associated with having to make accommodations for a spinal cord injury, including personal assistance and medical equipment. In addition to these, victims and families often face further financial strains caused by lost work wages, lost benefits, and lost productivity. The Foundation estimates that these indirect costs can average over $70,000 annually alone.
Statistics and science make it clear that spinal cord injuries are truly catastrophic injuries. They also highlight the importance of recovering full and fair compensation when injuries result from the negligent or careless acts of others. At Shrager & Sachs, we help victims understand their right to financial compensation, and provide the representation they need during the personal injury claim process.
Personal injury claims allow victims and their families to recover compensation for their damages, including their lost work income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. As part of these damages, it is critical to consider and calculate the costs of living with an injury so that victims and families have the financial resources they need to pay for their additional needs, accommodations, and medical care as they age. This is precisely why our team works with medical experts and dedicates the time to take a full account of expected future costs when calculating damages.
To learn more about your rights following a spinal cord injury, contact Shrager & Sachs.
Common Preventable Medical Errors