Spinal cord injuries are devastating and often require extended hospitalization and rehabilitation. Many victims, even after rehab, cannot go back to same life they lived before; they cannot participate in certain hobbies or even hold a job. Many people do consider these costs, focusing instead on their medical bills. This is understandable as these medical bills are often astronomical; however, failing to consider all the lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury can be a pricey mistake.
What are the initial medical costs of stabilizing and treating a spinal cord injury?
If you have ever visited the emergency room, you are most likely aware that emergency medical care is expensive. Spinal cord injuries usually require on-the-scene stabilization, ambulance transportation, emergency room triage, imaging scans, surgery and extended hospital stays. Some patients need help breathing, a feeding tube, and other life-sustaining interventions.
Even after all the immediate medical care victims receive, statistics from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center show that less than one percent of all spinal cord injury patients recover full neurologic function before they leave the hospital. This means that even after the doctors save the victim’s life, the victim must undergo extensive rehabilitation and intensive physical therapy to recover lost skills.
According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, even the most minor spinal injuries can cost an average of $347,484 during the first year alone. The most severe cases – commonly with injuries that occur in the neck and result in tetraplegia – typically top a million dollars in the first year.
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What other costs and ongoing expenses exist?
While the first year after a spinal cord injury is the most expensive, the ongoing nature of occupational and other therapies, as well as the need for ongoing nursing care, mean the cost of these injuries continue to add up year after year.
Depending on where on the spine the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, and the victim’s age at injury, the lifetime costs can average between $1,113,990 and $4,724,181 in related healthcare, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Of course, you cannot overlook the need for in-home care and home modifications such as ramps, wider doorways, adaptive equipment, and renovations for bathrooms and kitchens to make them functional and accessible. You will need a wheelchair accessible van or a lift for your vehicle, and may need hand controls if you want to drive again.
Even if the victim can return to his job, he will miss months if not years of work before he is able to make it to the office on a daily basis. Many people who suffer devastating spinal cord injuries never return to their previous career, and lost wages and lost earning potential add to the economic damages from the accident.
Lastly, there are always noneconomic, emotional damages to consider. Those who suffer from severe spinal cord injuries often also pay high emotional costs. They may be unable to participate in hobbies, share in family activities, or continue a normal relationship with their spouse. Depression and anxiety are, understandably, common.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident, slip and fall, or other incident due to someone else’s negligence, Bressman Law can help you get the compensation you deserve for the lifetime costs of your injury.