Up to twenty thousand people every year suffer severe injuries to their spines that render them partially or fully paralyzed. The majority of these accidents can be prevented and the cost of living with a spinal cord injury can put extreme financial pressure on the victims and their families. Understanding the cost of initial treatment for spinal cord injuries and the subsequent ongoing care over the patient's lifetime is instrumental in determining the value of a lawsuit. The objective is to secure enough money for the client so that he or she is able to afford the cost of an entire lifetime of care.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The level of paralysis suffered greatly affects the level of care that is needed and the associated costs with that care. Age also plays an important role both in the estimated cost over a lifetime and the mortality rate of the injuries. While there are numerous types of spinal cord injuries, there are three main classifications.
- Tetraplegia/quadriplegia— these injuries cause complete loss of motor function from the neck down and are the most costly of spinal injuries due to the extensive amount of care required and the inability of the victim to take care of most of his or her basic needs. (learn more here)
- Paraplegia— paraplegics maintain motor function in their upper bodies and are often able to take care of many of their own needs. They are limited to the use of a wheelchair due to the inability to move their lower limbs.
- Partial paralysis— some injuries to the spinal cord may cause partial or temporary paralysis that can be corrected through treatment. In other cases, the partial paralysis may affect the victim's quality of life permanently. (see here)
Cost of Care
When assessing the value of a potential lawsuit, attorneys first must calculate the initial cost of the hospital stay and treatment and then the cost of care once the patient has returned home. The average time spent in a hospital following an injury to the spinal cord is twelve days, and the time spent in a physical therapy treatment center after discharge is approximately thirty-seven days. The cost during the first year for those with partial paralysis is over $300,000 and is over $1 million for those who suffer from tetraplegia.
The cost of care beyond the first year ranges from $40,000 to $171,000— depending on the type of injury and severity. It is estimated that it would cost over $4 million for a lifetime of care if the victim was injured at the age of twenty-five. Even if the injury occurred at the age of fifty, it would still cost around $2 million if the victim suffered from tetraplegia. These exorbitant costs are why it is important to consult a personal injury lawyer before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company or the party responsible for your injuries. The insurance companies will be looking out for their interests and not yours and a qualified attorney will ensure that you are awarded fair compensation that will cover the cost of care for the remainder of your life.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation with a Chicago back and neck injury attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, contact us today.