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What is the Real Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury?

A great number of people survive spinal cord injuries in this country each year. These spinal cord injuries can be caused by car accidents, falls, violent altercations, sports, and medical errors. Though survivors of these types of injuries are lucky, as many spinal cord injuries are fatal, survival often means the need for extensive and ongoing medical care and rehabilitation, which equates to significant expenses. Though most people think of medical expenses when they think of expenses related to injuries, medical expenses are just the tip of the iceberg. If you or a loved one sustained a spinal cord injury in an event caused by another person’s negligence, it would be beneficial to obtain an accurate portrait of what is to come and to talk to a Rockford spinal cord injury attorney regarding your next steps.

Medical Expenses Associated With SCIs 

Though the cost of a spinal cord injury varies depending on the exact nature and severity of your injuries, you should expect medical expenses to be well above $1 million. Common reasons for those sky-high costs include the following:

  • Trauma care;
  • Spinal surgery;
  • Long-term care, including the costs of in-home nurses;
  • Rehabilitation costs, including occupational and physical therapies, mental health counseling, and speech therapy;
  • Medical equipment such as wheelchairs, ventilators, and in-home beds; and
  • Medication such as antibiotics and painkillers.

According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, newly paralyzed individuals can expect to pay out the following in medical and living costs in the first year of injury:

  • High Tetraplegia = $1,064,716
  • Low Tetraplegia = $769,351
  • Paraplegia = $518,904
  • Incomplete Motor Function of Any Level = $347,484

The costs tend to go down after the first year. Each subsequent year, a person with high tetraplegia can expect to incur approximately $184,000 in medical expenses annually, while those with low tetraplegia can expect to incur about $113,000 annually. Paraplegia costs the average person $69,000 annually, compared with just $42,000 a year in medical expenses for those with incomplete motor function.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

Medical expenses, as mentioned above, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to costs associated with SCIs. Sadly, within one year after the injury, just 11.7% of all persons living with spinal cord injuries are employed. Fortunately, that figure goes up at the 20-year mark, with 35.2% of injured parties maintaining gainful employment. However, it is not uncommon for those with SCIs to earn significantly less than their non-injured counterparts. According to a 2012 survey, the median wage for persons with spinal cord injuries was $26,000. Assuming that a person gets injured at 25 and would have worked until 65, this equates to a lifetime loss in earning potential of more than $1 million dollars.

Even those who are able to go back to work still have to take significant time off to recover. Most employers cannot afford to pay an employee for the duration of the recovery time typical of SCIs.

Hidden Expenses

If you plan to pursue a personal injury claim for yours or your loved one’s spinal cord injury, it is imperative that you work with an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer. As a newly injured person, you may focus only on the sky-high medical costs and lost earnings, but there is a good chance that your life will be irreparably changed post-accident. You may discover that you have to travel out of town to meet with specialists, which requires you to pay for airfare and hotel for yourself and a loved one who is to care for you. You may also discover that you have to remodel your home to accommodate your new needs, or that you need to purchase a wheelchair accessible van. Some other hidden costs associated with spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Home modifications, including sitting tub, roll-in shower, wheelchair ramp, and new flooring;
  • Adapted vehicle and driving controls;
  • Fertility treatments;
  • Adapted sports equipment; 
  • Standing frames to help maintain bone density; and
  • Vacation van rentals.

Our Rockford Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys can Value Your Claim 

If you plan to sue the liable party for damages, contact Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd., to discuss your case and to get an accurate assessment of what your claim is worth. It is not wise to just sue for immediate expenses such as medical fees and equipment costs. An experienced attorney can help you look to the future and negotiate for compensation that will be more than enough to cover all potential costs. Some damages our attorneys will strive to help you recover include the following: 

  • Medical expenses;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Lost wages and earning potential;
  • Court costs;
  • Attorney fees; and
  • The cost of hiring expert witnesses.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of a spinal cord injury extend far beyond the physical. Let our attorneys work with you to recover the compensation you need to pay for the existing and anticipated future cost of your injuries so that, at the very least, you do not have to worry about finances. Contact our Rockford spinal cord injury attorneys today.

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