No matter the severity of a spinal cord injury, one of the main questions people want to know after their injury is: How much will all of this cost? Many people in the United States do not have insurance coverage. While others do, their insurance coverage may not cover all medical expenses they need in the event of a spinal cord injury. Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries can be one of the most expensive disabilities you can acquire.
Not every spinal cord injury will break the bank, however. For minor spinal cord injuries, the expenses related to the injury will be a lot less than the expenses of someone with a severe injury. Also, if there are medical complications tied the injury, this too can make the spinal cord injury more expensive in the long-run. Read on to see how the severity of an injury can affect the cost of a spinal cord injury.
The Type of Injury Matters
The severity of a spinal cord injury will determine how expensive an injury will be. Injuries that result in the spinal cord being completely severed are called “complete” injuries. An injury that damages the spinal cord, but does not tear the cord in half is called an “incomplete” injury. Incomplete injuries tend to be less expensive than complete injuries. The location of the injury also makes a massive difference in regards to how expensive the spinal cord injury will be.
Cervical injuries—or spinal cord injuries that occur in the neck area— are usually the most expensive type of spinal cord injury. This is because people with cervical injuries usually experience some kind of paralysis and loss of sensation in all four limbs. Those with injuries at the very top of their neck will experience the most severe paralysis, and will usually require a ventilator to breathe due to the paralysis of their diaphragm.
People with no movement below their neck will need much more care in regards to caregiver expenses and other mobility equipment. At the opposite end of the spectrum, for those with an injury at the very bottom of the spinal cord, they will experience some paralysis but will usually be able to walk and take care of themselves independently. While they may experience balance issues and overall muscle weakness, they typically will not have to endure the expenses of caregivers, powerchairs, and ventilators (as many do with cervical injuries).
It is not always obvious how much movement you will eventually have immediately following a spinal cord injury. For those with an incomplete injury, movement and sensation may come back years after the injury takes place. For those with a complete injury, return of function usually stops within 1-2 years.
If Injured, See a Doctor ASAP
While spinal cord injuries can range in severity, all people who sustain a spinal cord injury (even if the injury is low and incomplete) should seek medical attention right away. Spinal cord injuries are highly fragile, which means if a spinal cord injury is suspected, keeping the person as still as possible is the first thing to do. If you move, your injury may get worse.
The first thing to do after sustaining a spinal cord injury is call 911 so you can see a doctor right away and diagnose your injury. An X-Ray, CT-scan, or MRI will be ordered upon your arrival at the hospital to determine the extent of your injury. You do not want to wait to receive medical care, because any small movement can further damage the spinal cord, resulting in more paralysis. In severe cases, patients have to have their spinal cords stabilized in surgery. For those with minor injuries, a back or neck brace is typically used instead.
It is also extremely important that you see a doctor right away so you can discover how severe injury is and possibly seek legal repercussions if someone is at fault for your injury. In most states, there is a statute of limitations, which means you have a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit in regards to your injury. This statute of limitations for personal injury cases, in most states, is typically two years. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can hire a lawyer to help you recover financial compensation to pay your medical bills.
You do not want the statute of limitations for your case to expire. If that occurs, you will not be able to seek any financial recovery for your injury— and spinal cord injuries are expensive. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, depending on the severity of the injury, the costs for a spinal cord injury in the first year range from $347,000 to $1 million.
What to Do Next?
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, see a medical professional immediately to diagnose and treat your injury. The longer you wait, the more serious your injury could become. Do not let the possibility of medical bills scare from seeing a doctor, as well. If you would like to talk to a spinal cord injury lawyer about your injury and who may be at fault, contact us today. We would love to talk with you, and we can help you determine the next steps for your case.