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.
Call The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC
at (512) 271-5112 to
discuss your legal options with our experienced attorneys.