Spinal cord injuries are a terrible thing and, unfortunately, they occur all too often. In fact, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons states that, on average, 34,000 new spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, occur in the United States every year. In total, they estimate that means there are around 450,000 people in the U.S. living with spinal cord injuries right now.
Spinal cord injuries are not only devastating, they’re life changing. The victim of the injury will almost certainly never be the same, and may require round the clock care, years of medical treatments, and countless therapy sessions. Of course the bills that go along with such an injury are not small, not by a long shot. Medical costs and the price of a caretaker can easily bury a family in debt, putting them in a situation that is even more stressful than before. Thankfully, if your injury occurred as a result of an accident, a Colorado personal injury attorney may be able to help you seek financial compensation.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury occurs when one or more of the vertebrae are fractured, dislocated, compressed, hyperextended, or hyperflexed. This kind of injury is usually caused when a sudden jerking or twisting motion, crushing pressure, or violent force is exerted on the spine. Given the right circumstances, an SCI can occur during almost any kind of accident, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or a slip and fall accident.
The side effects of a spinal cord injury are often severe, and can include:
- Loss of muscle control
- Inability to control bodily functions (e.g. bladder control)
- Decreased sexual functionality (including infertility)
- Painful, stinging sensations in muscles
Average Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury
The financial impact of a spinal cord injury can be quite hard for any family or individual to handle. The cost of the injury itself will vary depending on several factors:
- How severe the injury is
- Whether surgery is needed or not
- How long the initial hospital stay is
- What kind of medicines are prescribed
- How much physical therapy is required
- Whether or not the individual will require a caretaker
So how much does a spinal cord injury really cost? The University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have conducted extensive studies on this matter, and have outlined the average cost for a SCI victim both in the first year of their injury and every year that follows:
- High Tetraplegia: If diagnosed with High Tetraplegia, an injury that occurs in the C1-C4 vertebrae, the first year of medical bills could total $1,064,716 or more. Subsequent years are estimated at an average of $184,891 per year.
- Low Tetraplegia: This kind of paralysis occurs when the C5-C8 vertebrae are damaged, and can easily cost $769,351 in the first year. Each year afterwards is estimated at $113,423.
- Paraplegia: An individual who has become a paraplegic could potentially pay substantially less than a tetraplegic might. The study suggest that they could pay around $518,904 for the first year and $68,739 per year after that.
- Incomplete Motor Function: Sometimes an injury occurs that limits motor function in some way but doesn’t result in complete paralysis. In this situation the initial bills may total $347,484 and around $42,206 each subsequent year.
Paying for a Spinal Cord Injury
As you can see, paying for the medical bills associated with a spinal cord injury is no small feat. In addition to working with a personal injury attorney to seek compensation from the responsible party, there are a number of other things you can do on your own to garner support and raise money.
Traditional fundraising is a great way to get your story in front of people and to have them hear, first hand, how difficult it is to live with a SCI. This is something that can easily be done with the help of your local community, church, and even local restaurants or bars. Many organizations, in the food service industry especially, may be willing to run a fundraising program for you as part of their daily business. Typically, it works by offering customers a discount for their donation, or incentivizing them to come eat on a certain day by committing to donate a portion or all of the proceeds to your fundraising efforts. You can also look into online fundraising through Kickstarter or Go Fund Me, though finding success with these programs depends on your ability to spread the word online and in person.
Thankfully, there are also a number of groups who can offer resources and, in some cases, financial assistance. Check with the organizations below to learn more and find out if they may be able to help in your situation:
- Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care & Cure: This website offers a variety of resources geared towards those impacted by SCIs.
- United Spinal Association: Their Spinal Cord Resource Center contains vast amounts of information on who provides fundraising assistance, grants, and other financial help to SCI victims.
- NeedyMeds: This non-profit assists with finding diagnosis-based assistance programs for spinal cord injuries.
- Gridiron Heroes: This organization is geared specifically towards kids who sustained a SCI while playing high school football.
- Shriners Hospitals for Children: The Shriners help families whose children are suffering with a spinal cord injury by providing cutting edge treatment as well as social, emotional, and developmental support.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Could Help
As with any accident, you shouldn’t have to take the brunt of the financial trauma if the accident was not your fault. If caused by an automobile accident, medical malpractice, or faulty/malfunctioning machinery, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent or responsible party for the catastrophic injuries they’ve caused, not to mention the emotional and financial suffering.
Regardless of how the accident happened, if you or a loved one are suffering from a spinal cord injury, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer. The seasoned Colorado personal injury attorneys at The Frickey Law Firm has decades of experience helping the innocent victims of such tragedies. We would love to hear your story and review your case, so that we can advise you on whether or not filing a lawsuit is the best course of action for you. Call now, at 303-237-7373 or contact us any time.