Nearly 1 in 50 people in the United States – or 6 million people total – live with paralysis. Based on national estimates, there are about 21,000 paralyzed Rhode Islanders. Each one of them, over the course of his or her life, can expect to pay considerable healthcare and living costs as a result of the disability.
Adding to these costs are the losses in wages, fringe benefits, and productivity that typically accompany paralysis. In fact, the indirect costs of paralysis often exceed the direct costs.
The second-leading cause of paralysis is spinal cord injury (SCI). SCI has many causes, but most of them are preventable. Nearly 80 percent of spinal cord injuries result from some type of accident. A well-known example is provided by Christopher Reeve, who fractured his vertebrae in a horseback riding accident. Sports, however, are responsible for considerably fewer SCIs than car crashes and workplace accidents.
The high costs of living with paralysis make it crucial to recover maximum compensation in cases where someone else was to blame for a spinal cord injury.
At Marasco & Nesselbush, Rhode Island’s trusted personal injury law firm, our paralysis injury lawyers are committed to obtaining extraordinary results for each and every client. Please see the client testimonials about the quality legal care we provide, and the representative case highlights for details about our case results.
Find out all the ways we can help you during your free initial consultation. Call or contact us online today to discuss your claim with our lawyers, free of charge and with no strings attached.
Causes And Types Of Spinal Cord Injuries
While SCI can be caused by a birth defect, the vast majority of cases result from an incident later in life. The leading causes of spinal cord injuries, according to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, are:
- Workplace accident (28 percent).
- Motor vehicle accident (24 percent).
- Sporting or recreation accident (16 percent).
- Fall (9 percent).
- Victim of violence (4 percent).
The spine is grouped into four areas: the cervical (upper), thoracic (central), lumbar and sacral (lower). The severity of SCI is determined by the area of the spinal cord that’s damaged.
- Quadriplegia (tetraplegia) results from a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebrae. Someone with quadriplegia is paralyzed in all four limbs and also has reduced function in the abdominal and chest muscles.
- Paraplegia is a spinal cord injury that occurs below the first thoracic spinal nerve. Paraplegics have full use of their arms and hands, but they are completely or partially paralyzed from the legs up to the nipple line.
- Cauda equina syndrome occurs when the cauda equina – a mass of nerves between the first and second lumbar – is injured. The injury may cause partial or complete loss of movement and sensation.
Costs Of Spinal Cord Injuries
Depending on SCI severity, yearly expenses average $334,000-$1.023 million or more in the first year, and $40,500-$171,800 or more in each subsequent year. These figures translate into the following estimated lifetime costs of being paralyzed for someone who is 25 years old at the time of injury:
- Incomplete motor function – $1.5 million or more.
- Paraplegia – $2.2 million or more.
- Tetraplegia – $3.3 million-$4.5 million or more.
The younger the injury victim, the higher his or her lifetime costs will be in most cases. For example, someone who becomes a paraplegic or quadriplegic at age 50 may incur lifetime costs of $1.45 million-$2.5 million or more.
These costs are for average yearly healthcare and living expenses, which cover things like:
- Initial hospitalization.
- Stay in rehabilitation unit.
- Home and vehicle modifications.
- Ongoing medical care.
- Medications and supplies.
- Personal assistance.
Indirect Costs Of Paralysis
In addition to these expenses, SCI victims can also expect indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits and productivity. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that indirect costs average $70,575 per year (as of 2013).
These figures don’t include other losses, such as pain and suffering, diminished enjoyment of life, loss of consortium and other non-economic damages. These losses are often substantial in terms of dollar amounts.
Trust Rhode Island’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firm
Few injuries disrupt a person’s life as completely as a spinal cord injury. It can make an independent person dependent on others for basic daily needs and impose costs that exceed $250,000 per year, to say nothing of a victim’s mental suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.
If your spinal cord injury was caused by somebody else’s carelessness or recklessness, a personal injury lawsuit may provide much-needed compensation. Due to lawsuit filing deadlines and other considerations, it’s important to take legal action as soon as possible.