One of the most devastating outcomes of a serious car or truck accident is a spinal cord injury (SCI) that leaves a victim paralyzed. This kind of catastrophic injury requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the astronomical costs of such an injury and will fight to get the maximum compensation possible from all liable parties.
Many advances have been made in the care and assistance available to those suffering from an SCI, but they all come at a cost. Learn more about what you or your loved one will need to live your best life following an SCI caused by a car or truck accident.
Caring for an SCI Survivor
Every year, an estimated 17,000 people survive a spinal cord injury and require treatment and care. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the majority of these injuries—about 38 percent—are the result of motor vehicle accidents. While the treatment and follow-up care needed varies according to the severity of the injury, medical expenses can easily exceed $500,000 in the first year alone.
Victims and their families can expect to incur the following expenses:
- Emergency services. The medical care needed immediately after the accident may include an air ambulance, use of a specialized trauma center, and life-saving surgical procedures.
- Spinal surgery. Additional surgeries may be required for spinal stabilization, spinal fusion, and respiratory care.
- Rehabilitation. Most SCI victims require a period of rehabilitation to regain some function or to learn to use assistive devices.
- Long-term care. Severe cases may require moving to an assisted living facility or bringing in home healthcare workers.
- Medical equipment. Wheelchairs, respirators, and other assistive devices will be necessary for almost all SCI victims.
- Medications. Antibiotics to fight infection and painkillers will be required by many patients as they recover or for the rest of their lives.
An attorney experienced with catastrophic injuries such as an SCI knows that the cost of the initial medical interventions is only a small part of what will be needed to make the victim “whole.” That is why an attorney may wait until the prognosis is clear. Only at that point can he know what kind of a settlement he needs to try to negotiate.
Estimated Lifetime Costs of an SCI
According to the Christopher & Dana Reed Foundation, the average costs associated with an SCI vary greatly depending on the particular injury. Nearly half of all new SCI cases each year result in incomplete tetraplegia, an injury which affects all four limbs, but the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost and some sensation and movement is possible below the level of injury. Twenty percent of SCIs result in incomplete paraplegia, meaning functioning below the waist is affected.
The foundation estimates the following costs for each type of injury:
- Tetraplegia originating in the upper spine: $1,064,716 for the first year, $184,891 a year for each subsequent year.
- Tetraplegia originating below the neck: $769,351 for the first year, $113,423 a year for each subsequent year.
- Paraplegia: $518,904 for the first year, $68,739 a year for each subsequent year.
The lifetime expenses for a 25-year-old who suffers a high-level spinal cord injury can reach nearly $5 million. A 25-year-old whose SCI results in paraplegia can expect lifetime expenses exceeding $2 million. These figures don't account for the victim’s loss of ability to earn a living due to his or her injuries. These losses average an additional $72,000 per year.
A Catastrophic Injury Attorney Can Make Sure Your Needs Are Met
When you or a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury in a car or truck crash that was not the victim’s fault, you need an attorney who knows what your family requres to live the best possible life with partial or total paralysis. These negotiations can take time, but given the costs victims face, it'll be worth the wait. Contact us at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys to learn more about spinal cord injury claims.