How Spinal Cord Injury Costs Are Calculated

When someone is diagnosed with a spinal cord injury or SCI, the cost of the injury is usually not limited to medical bills.  SCIs may impact the rest of the victim’s life, so it is very important to receive sound advice before settling for any amount of money.  Many SCI victims, rushed into a settlement by an insurance company, receive far less than the total costs associated with such an injury.

How does an attorney go about calculating a figure for settlement of a spinal cord injury?  In essence, the attorney for the victim must think about the totality of costs over the victim’s lifetime.  This means that age, occupation, and severity of the injury must all be considered.

SCI Costs by Severity of Injury

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are four broad categories of spinal cord injuries, and the costs associated with each are different.

  • High tetraplegia (C1-C4). These are the most severe types of SCIs, involving the nerves closest to the brain.  The patient may not be able to breathe, cough, or control bowel or bladder functions without help.  Sometimes, the patient is unable to speak or move independently.  The medical costs associated with this type of injury for the first year are often as much as $1.1 million, with another $185,000 spent on medical expenses each subsequent year.
  • Low tetraplegia (C5-C8). These injuries involve nerves in the lower area of the spine and are often somewhat less catastrophic than a high tetraplegia injury.  However, patients still often lose significant motor function, particularly below the waist, and quality of life may be greatly diminished.  The initial medical costs of such an injury may be close to $770,000, with an estimated yearly cost of $114,000.
  • Paraplegia is isolated paralysis, generally of the lower body.  The medical costs associated with this injury are initially more than $519,000, with yearly medical expenses of $69,000.
  • Incomplete motor function. Any permanent paralysis or loss of motor function will carry a price of nearly $350,000 for initial medical treatment, with yearly costs of $42,000.

These medical costs do not include indirect costs such as loss of potential future income, increased living expenses, and other costs.  For a healthy, 25-year-old victim, these costs can be extreme.  A young person with a high tetraplegic injury could reasonably expect to lose $4.7 million over the course of a lifetime in total costs.  A 50-year-old victim with incomplete motor function of any type could lose as much as $1.1 million of the remainder of his or her life.

Clearly, SCIs are expensive and devastating injuries.  If you have suffered any type of spinal cord injury, be sure to contact the caring, professional attorneys at Barber & Associates.  We have worked with spinal cord injury victims in Alaska for many years, and we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.  Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you provide for yourself and your loved ones after a spinal cord injury.

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