Accounting for the Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

Personal injury claims involving spinal cord injuries are often eligible for higher settlements because of their long-term effects. These injuries affect not only the person’s health, but also their finances and their mental wellbeing. These effects can even extend to family caretakers and will last the lifetime of the injured person.

Long-term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries on Your Health

The extent of the damages applicable to a spinal cord injury will depend on where the injury occurred along the spine. There are three main levels of impairment.

Injury to the C1-C4 Vertebrae: High Tetraplegia 

Sometimes referred to as total body paralysis, this level of injury impairs the ability to move and feel from the neck down. An injury to this region can cause difficulty breathing unassisted and affects bladder and bowel function too. This injury may require dependence on others for basic life needs.

Injury to the C5-C8 Vertebrae: Low Tetraplegia 

Injuries to this region of the spine may allow for partial shoulder, elbow, and hand movements. Breathing is typically unaffected, but the patient may still be unable to walk and may require assistance for some self-care, including bladder and bowel function.

Injury to the Thoracic or Lumbar Vertebrae: Paraplegia 

Injuries in these regions usually allow for all upper extremity function to remain normal, and impairment occurs only below the waist. The lower down the spine the injury occurs, the lower the impairment. Some people with injuries at this level will be able to walk short distances with assistance from braces or a walker.

Long-term Financial Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation estimates the average yearly costs of the different levels of spinal cord injury. In 2014, a person with a spinal cord injury could expect annual medical and living expenses to reach the following amounts:

  • High Tetraplegia: $1,064,716 the first year and $184,891 for the following years.
  • Low Tetraplegia: $769,351 the first year and $113,423 for the following years.
  • Paraplegia: $518,904 the first year and $68,739 for the following years.
  • Incomplete motor function at any level: $347,484 the first year and $42,206 for the following years.

When you factor in the lost wages and lost earning ability, as well as loss of expected bonuses or benefits the injured individual would have earned if not for the spinal cord injury, the annual losses increase by an estimated $71,961.

Know Your Prognosis and Long-Term Damages Before Accepting a Settlement

At Coffey McPharlin we take great care to account for every aspect of the long-term effects of your spinal cord injury. Before you accept a settlement from the insurance company or settle a lawsuit, let us represent your best interests. Call us at 954-541-3194 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.