In insurance, legal and medical terms, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are included in what’s referred to as “catastrophic injuries.” These types of injuries are typically so severe and life-altering they can result in permanent disability and a lifetime of recovery and physical therapy. Injuries to the spinal cord typically affect the entire body, leaving a patient with a number of medical issues to deal with for the rest of their life, regardless of the level of their injury.
Because of the long-lasting effects of a spinal cord injury, it’s important to understand not only what you might expect physically, but also financially. Unfortunately, a majority of SCIs result in long-term medical issues and care – which means long-term medical bills. These costs can be absolutely overwhelming to a victim of an SCI, especially when they’re unable to work due to their injury. If you’re considering a personal injury action against the person who was responsible for your SCI, you and your attorney need to consider all aspects of your catastrophic injury.
Types of spinal cord trauma and costs of care
The physical effects of spinal cord injury depend upon where on the spinal cord the trauma occurred. The charity and resource organization the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation compile statistics and estimates for the average yearly expenses for SCI survivors.
Depending on the severity of the injury and the patient’s age and circumstances, these numbers can vary widely, but following is a general list of types of SCIs and their lifetime costs of care. (Note that these numbers don’t include things like lost wages or the initial cost of the injury.)
- High tetraplegia. Injuries from the C1 to C4 vertebrae can impair a patient’s ability to move or feel from the neck down – also called total body paralysis. Patient’s typically need help with breathing, bowel functions and daily living. Lifetime financial costs for high tetraplegia injuries average between $2,596,329 and $4,724,181.
- Low tetraplegia. A patient with injuries to the C5 to C8 vertebrae can have partial movement above the waist, but may still be unable to walk. They may breathe unassisted but will still need help with daily living tasks. Lifetime financial costs for low tetraplegia injuries average between $2,123,154 and $3,451,781.
- Paraplegia. Injuries to the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae often causes paraplegia. Typically the upper extremities remain unaffected and impairment is below the waist. Some patients may be able to walk with assistance, or use a wheelchair or scooter. Lifetime financial costs for these injuries average between $1,516,052 and $2,310,104.
Even a “minor” spinal cord injury that causes any level of incomplete motor function can have many unforeseen costs, like physical therapy, secondary infections, pressure sores and other issues. An attorney can help ensure you’re compensated fairly and thoroughly for your losses and injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault, talk to Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law. Our Chattanooga personal injury lawyers protect your right to compensation. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.