Suffering any injury that results in paralysis can prove devastating. It can change the entire course of your life, from the activities you can enjoy to the work you can perform or even your ability to work at all. When someone else's negligence causes your injuries, you may have the right to pursue compensation in an injury claim. To establish the compensation you deserve, however, you may need to break down your financial losses and the money you have spent or will need to spend to improve your quality of life following a paralyzing injury.
Take a look at these expenses you may want to include when you sue after a paralysis injury.
Your Direct Medical Costs
Spinal cord injuries can prove incredibly expensive. Make sure you keep track of all the medical bills you have faced so you can include them as part of a comprehensive injury claim. You may want to take a very close look at your expenses, including the copay and deductible amounts you may have had to pay during your recovery.
The Cost of Hospitalization
After a spinal cord injury, you may spend a long time in the hospital. For a complete spinal cord injury, you may spend more than $52,000 on hospitalization alone. For patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries, who may not need as much time in the hospital, that cost can rise to around $20,000.
Ongoing Medical Treatment
The treatment you receive for a spinal cord injury may depend on the severity of your injury and where on the body it occurs. Unfortunately, medical costs for a spinal cord injury can rise incredibly high. Patients with high tetraplegia, or complete paralysis high on the spinal cord, may face more than $740,000 in treatment costs in the initial year after treatment alone.
You may want to include the cost of any treatments you receive, including:
- Surgery. The cost of spinal cord surgery can vary dramatically depending on the extent of the injuries and the procedure performed. In addition, your costs may depend on where you had the procedure. Spinal fusion surgery, for example, may cost between $80,000 and $150,000.
- Steroid injections. Steroid injections, on average, cost between $100 and $300 per injection; however, spinal cord injury patients may face higher costs.
- Traction. Time spent in traction can help bring the spine back into alignment and aid healing. Costs may vary depending on the extent of your injuries and how long you need to spend in treatment.
Often, spinal cord injury victims will face medical costs that may last for the rest of their lives. Patients may undergo multiple procedures, including experimental procedures intended to help with overall mobility. Make sure you talk to your doctors about anticipated future medical procedures and their costs so that you can include them as part of your comprehensive spinal cord injury claim.
Certified Nursing Care
Many patients with spinal cord injuries will require ongoing care for the rest of their lives. While they may go on to live at home fairly independently following their injuries, spinal cord injury patients may need assistance with many important daily tasks, including bathing, cleanliness, and keeping up with the house.
Often, spinal cord injury victims will need someone to come in and provide them with those services. In-home care may cost an average of $4,000 per month. The full extent of that cost may depend on what type of healthcare you need, who provides the care, and how often you require care. As part of your claim, you can include the cost of in-home care that allows you to maintain some degree of independence.
Many patients with spinal cord injuries will require substantial therapy to help them cope with the limitations imposed by those injuries. Paralyzing injuries can leave you without the use of your limbs. The extent of the paralysis may determine how much physical and occupational therapy you need.
Occupational therapy sessions help patients suffering from paralysis learn how to cope and take care of basic tasks within their limitations. For example, an occupational therapist might help you learn how to get around in a wheelchair or how to compensate when you lose the use of one arm because of a paralyzing injury. Occupational therapists can also assist in learning how to use adaptive devices and communication equipment designed for paralyzed patients. Often, those strategies and devices can help improve the quality of life for a paralyzed patient.
Occupational therapy costs up to $400 per hour, depending on whether you have insurance to help cover those costs and what type of services you need. You may have months or years of occupational therapy to help you learn how to manage the new limitations imposed by a spinal cord injury.
Frequently, patients with serious injuries will need physical therapy. For spinal cord injury victims, physical therapy may aid some in restoring or maintaining mobility after a severe injury. Patients with spinal cord injuries may require physical therapy to help protect muscle tone for the rest of their lives. Without physical therapy, spinal cord injury victims may suffer additional complications.
Like occupational therapy, however, physical therapy can prove expensive. It can cost as much as $350 or more per session, depending on the complexity of the therapy and the length of each session.
In addition to physical and occupational therapy, many victims who have sustained paralyzing injuries will need to go through substantial psychological therapy as they learn how to cope with the limitations of their injuries. Therapy may range, on average, between $100 and $200 per session. In many cases, paralysis victims will find themselves going through ongoing therapy to help them cope with their limitations and the challenges that may crop up as they learn to live with the impacts of their injuries.
Durable Medical Equipment
Spinal cord injury victims may need to use durable medical equipment to help them cope with their limitations, maintain their quality of life, and protect their overall health and mobility.
A standard, manual wheelchair may run an average of $500. However, many spinal cord injury victims need much more complex wheelchairs to help them get around. Power or electric wheelchairs run an average of $7,500 but may run as high as $30,000 or more.
Patients suffering from paralysis after a serious accident may need to use a variety of devices to help aid in overall mobility and function after the accident. Adaptive devices can include transfer seats, reachers, leg lifters, and equipment like adaptive silverware and guards specifically designed to improve function and mobility for paralyzed patients. The cost of those devices can add up substantially and may depend on the type and volume of devices you may need.
Breathing Assistance Machines
Some patients, especially those suffering from paralysis well above the waist, may struggle with breathing difficulties. Breathing assistance machines may cost hundreds of dollars and thousands, depending on the model used and the type of assistance required.
Home and Vehicle Modifications
In many cases, patients with spinal cord injuries will require modifications to their homes or vehicles to allow them to live as independently and comfortably as possible. Those costs may depend on the home before the incident and what modifications you need to live as independently as possible. For example, some spinal cord injury victims may need more assistance in the shower than others.
The cost of wheelchair vans may vary dramatically. However, those costs generally range between $43,000 and $70,000. You may also need to pay more for hand controls or other modifications that can make it possible to operate the vehicle despite mobility difficulties.
Installing a disability ramp, which can make a home accessible to a patient in a wheelchair, can cost an average of $2,045. However, the cost may vary substantially based on how high the wheelchair ramp needs to go and how much ground it needs to cover. You may also notice that your costs increase if, for example, you need to install more than one wheelchair ramp because of multiple entrances to the house.
Remodeling a house for wheelchair access often involves widening doorways. Depending on the type of door already in place and how much you will need to modify exterior doors to allow wheelchair access, it may cost between $700 and $2,500 to widen doorways for wheelchair access.
Making sure the bathroom is accessible can be particularly important for disabled individuals. Depending on your unique limitations and needs, you may need to change your shower (an average of around $600-$3,000), your countertops, and your toilet. Depending on what changes you need to make in your bathroom, it can cost up to $9,000 to ensure you have full access.
To make your kitchen disability accessible, according to ADA guidelines, you may need to make many changes. You may need to install cabinets and counters at wheelchair-accessible heights and ensure your stove and other appliances are within easy reach. It can cost as much as $40,000 to make your kitchen fully wheelchair accessible following paralysis.
In some cases, you may have some mobility despite paralysis. In that case, you may need to install options like non-slip flooring, which can cost as much as $22 per square foot throughout your home. Those costs can add up substantially, particularly in larger houses.
Income Losses Related to Your Injuries
A spinal cord injury can permanently change the way you work or your ability to work in your profession. You may have a long road to recovery immediately after your paralyzing injury.
Immediate Lost Income
Look at the time you have spent out of work due to your injury. You may have to spend months out of work while you recover. In some cases, your employer may need considerable time to make the modifications you need to allow you to get back to work.
You may also need an occupational therapist to teach you how to complete as many of your job duties as possible despite your injuries. While focusing on your recovery, you may miss out on vital income. You can include your lost income as part of your paralysis injury claim.
Lost Earning Potential
Paralyzing injuries can permanently prevent you from working in your preferred profession. You may end up unable to complete those job duties as a direct result of the accident. Unfortunately, in some cases, you may need to change professions entirely because of your accident. Talk to your lawyer about the loss of income potential resulting from the accident.
You may recover additional compensation to make it easier for you to rebuild your life, whether that means compensation to pay for the ongoing expense associated with a spinal cord injury or compensation that can help you modify your home and surroundings to make it more accessible despite your spinal cord injuries.
A Lawyer Can Help You Maximize Your Compensation
If you suffered paralyzing injuries, you might have a long road to recovery ahead of you, with immense financial costs. Talk to a lawyer as soon after the accident as possible to learn more about the compensation you may deserve and how you can calculate the expenses related to your accident.