While all spinal cord injuries are a serious issue, they can vary widely in severity. At their worst, though, spinal cord injuries can result in permanent paralysis below the site of the injury and a lifetime of medical costs. Most people don’t give SCIs much thought because they are relatively uncommon. Given the dramatic impact an SCI can have on your life, the topic might be worth more consideration. Suffering an SCI can bring with it significant financial burdens, but it also can carry major costs in the form of diminished quality of life.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is essentially the pipeline through which all nerve signals pass on their way to and from the brain. The brain tells body parts what to do via the spinal cord, and body parts send messages to the brain about how they’re doing – whether the body part is damaged, or in pain, or in some other way not functioning properly. Interfering with those signals can have negative consequences ranging all the way up to total paralysis or death.
Spinal cord injuries can range from a bruise – painful, but usually an injury that heals – up to a partial tear or a complete tear, known as a transection. Any spinal cord injury can result in a partial or total loss of ability to feel or move below the level of the injury. Such an injury also can result in a loss of organ function below the level of the injury. There are roughly 12,000 injuries annually resulting in that kind of loss of function. SCI is a significant cause of permanent disability and death.
Car Accidents are a Major Cause of Spinal Injuries
Spinal cord injuries, which include injuries to the back and neck, are a common result of traffic accidents. Traffic accidents rank ahead of falls, gunshot wounds, other acts of violence, sports accidents, and any other cause of SCI. Traffic accidents account for roughly 40 percent of all SCIs each year. One study estimated that as of 2015, there are about 125,000 spinal cord injuries every year. There are estimated to be between 240,000 and 337,000 Americans living with debilitating spinal cord injuries.
The Lifetime Expenses of a Spinal Cord Injury Can Be Astronomical
A spinal cord injury is unlike an injury to any other body part. The spinal cord is encased in vertebrae, which are simply small bones hooked one to the next with the spinal cord encased within the tunnel those bones form. If you break your arm, you put it in a cast, and it heals in a few weeks. If you break your spine, you run the risk of severing your spinal cord, leaving you paralyzed below that break in the spine. If you suffer a spinal cord injury in a traffic accident, significant medical expenses will likely be in your future. The costs will depend upon the extent of the damage to your spine, but the potential costs are staggering.
Typically, spinal cord injuries from traffic accidents result in medical costs in the first year of roughly $200,000. For paraplegics – paralyzed from the waist down — the average first-year cost totals about $152,000. Quadriplegics, who are completely paralyzed in all four limbs, face average first-year costs of $417,00. For paraplegics the average lifetime medical costs run about $428,000; for quadriplegics, that lifetime cost shoots up to an average of $1.35 million. Those medical costs do not include lost income or other related damages.
If You Have Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury, Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident resulting in a spinal cord injury, you need to speak with a Miami personal injury attorney to discuss your options for recovering damages. Contact Flagler Personal Injury Group at (305) 424-8445 or through our online contact form. Flagler Personal Injury Group serves the greater Miami area.
We handle a variety of cases, so call us now if you have any questions.
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