September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month, designed to educate the public about spinal cord injuries in an effort to promote research to enhance the quality of life for people with SCIs. As personal injury attorneys, we’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects an SCI can have on the injured person and their loved ones. When an SCI is due to an accident caused by a negligent party, the injured victim may choose to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation and financial help for their losses.
Spinal Cord Injury from an Accident
Motor vehicle accidents from a car, truck or motorcycle are the leading cause of SCI in the US, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), accounting for 38% of the almost 18,000 people in the US who experience a spinal cord injury each year. Falls account for another third of cases (32%) while gunshot violence (14%) and recreational sports (8%) are also common causes of SCI.
Long Term Effects of an SCI
Spinal cord injuries can have permanent physical, psychological and financial impacts.
Physical Impact of a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries fall into two categories -- complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury fully eliminates the brain’s ability to send signals below the injury site. An incomplete spinal cord injury can also cause serious consequences, though they vary greatly depending on the type and severity of injury. Physical impacts can include:
- Quadriplegia or paraplegia
- Triplegia -- a loss of sensation and movement in one arm and both legs, typically the product of an incomplete spinal cord injury
- Nerve damage
- Loss of motor function
Quality of Life Impact of a Spinal Cord Injury
Like other serious injuries or illnesses, people with a spinal cord injury may experience a range of emotions and mental health issues as a result of, or alongside other changes to their daily life such as:
- Inability to return to work
- Inability to do the same leisure or recreational activities
- Loss of independence
- Lack of privacy
- Separation from family and friends
- Reliance on others for basic daily needs
- Changes in functional ability and physical health
Financial Impact of a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal injury often requires long-term care, surgeries, and extensive rehabilitation. The exorbitant cost of medical treatments can be devastating to a family, financially; in fact, the cost of treating a spinal cord injury can cost up to $1 million dollars in the first year alone. It’s also not unusual for a spinal injury victim to need home renovations or an entirely new living situation because of their disability.
Even those who do not receive a diagnosis of quadriplegia or tetraplegia—but suffer some form of limited mobility—may face enormous, additional expenses each year. You may be out of work temporarily or permanently.
Financial Compensation for Spinal Cord Injury
Because of the catastrophic nature of spinal cord injuries, victims who file and win a personal injury lawsuit are often awarded very high compensation amounts. In filing an injury claim, a person with a spinal cord injury may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Home and vehicle renovations to accommodate a wheelchair
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
Other elements of compensation include non-economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. These types of damages are intangible, meaning there isn’t a specific dollar amount to account for this kind of loss. However, in cases of serious injury, non-economic damages can be up to 5 times the amount of economic damages (medical expenses and lost wages).
Get Help to Financially Recover from an SCI
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your options, build your case and then represent you in negotiations and litigation. Our spinal cord injury lawyers will create and build a case to prove the other party’s liability by gathering evidence and consulting with experts. Our firm will also help to keep track and organize medical bills and records to document your injuries and their costs as well as negotiate with insurance companies, healthcare providers and the other party’s attorneys.
Contact us today for a free consultation. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you on the next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Don’t go it alone. Let us help you turn your setback into a comeback.