The Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury
There is almost nothing more devastating than a spinal cord injury. In minor accidents, these injuries may come with a large amount of discomfort and pain while you recover and get back on your feet. But the more catastrophic accidents can leave a victim with the inability to walk, move their hands, control their bladder, and feel below the waist or neck. Paralysis is a common side effect of spinal cord injuries, and it can come with a massive price tag.
Treating a Spinal Cord Injury
After an accident, your emergency room doctors will begin to review the extent of your injuries and assign priorities about what to treat. They may focus on a deep laceration in your neck, a puncture wound in your head, or a crushed limb, as all of these injuries can prove fatal if not treated immediately. However, they will also work to correct any long-term damage that can cause paralysis, nerve damage, or chronic pain, which are all common in a spinal cord injury.
Initially, they may test your limbs to see if you respond to pain, can move your toes or fingers, and if you have any mobility or flexibility issues. This is all done to rule out paralysis, but if they do identify it, they may need to perform more diagnostic tests such as an MRI or CT-scan to determine the full extent of the damage. If identified early enough, they may be able to repair the damage through surgery or physical therapy and put you on the path to recovery.
Sadly, many spinal cord injuries cannot be corrected, often due to irreversible nerve damage that occurred during the accident. Even something as seemingly simple as a slip and fall or diving injury can cause catastrophic damage to your spinal column, resulting in paralysis. In these cases, your doctors may focus on helping you recover some sensation in your limbs or helping you adjust to your new medical condition. This can include physical and occupational therapy that allows you to continue handling day-to-day tasks without assistance or utilize assisted living equipment.
Altogether, the costs of treatments are expensive, even if you do not suffer from paralysis. You may need months of surgeries and therapy to overcome any mobility issues, as well as medication to contend with the pain. For those who do suffer paralysis, the costs can follow you for a lifetime. However, if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may have options.
What You Can Recover
In the state of California, accident victims can pursue several types of damages in a personal injury claim, the major two being punitive damages and compensatory damages. In most cases, courts will award victims only compensatory damages, or costs related to an injury. Punitive damages are often only included if the person who caused the accident committed gross negligence or committed a criminal act. These types of damages are designed to punish the at-fault party, rather than award the victim compensation.
When breaking down compensatory damages for a spinal cord injury, you can recover all of the financial costs related to your injury, which can be significant. Above all else you may be focused on your immediate medical bills, such as an ER visit, diagnostic tests, and corrective surgeries; however, you can include so much more. Compensation for spinal cord injuries often includes visits to specialists, diagnostic tests, surgeries, assisted living equipment such as wheelchairs, adjustments to your home like ramps and handrails, medication, and physical therapy. Oftentimes, a claim can also include future medical expenses that may arise over your lifetime.
Alongside medical bills, your claim can also include the financial impact on your career. Even if you only took a month off work to recover, then you can include all the wages you missed out on from that time period in your claim. Most accident victims need multiple days off over the course of a few months to attend doctors’ appointments, and these can also be included. But your case can go beyond lost wages to include lost career opportunities, which accounts for how an injury has made it difficult for you to continue working your job or pursue a specific career. If you were left disabled from a spinal cord injury, then lost career opportunities are a real possibility.
Outside of the financial costs of a spinal cord injury, you may also be able to recover non-economic damages, or personal costs, that are associated with your injuries, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and the emotional impact of an accident. These costs are much more intangible than medical bills and will vary from person to person, but they can be included in your claim.
What Is My Case Worth?
At the end of the day, every case is different, and there is not a specific number that factors in all the costs of your injuries. The size of your claim can vary depending on the hospital you go to, the type of health insurance you have, whether or not you have Medpay, what type of job you have, how long you are out of work, and even your own pain tolerance. But what we can say is that spinal cord injuries are not cheap, and even a minor injury can cause you thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Paralysis, in turn, can be financially devastating.
That is why, if you suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, it is vital that you have your case reviewed by an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney at jD LAW. Pursuing a claim may be your only way to recover compensation for the immediate costs of your accident and ensure that you can pay for the long-term expenses associated with your injury. Our legal team can evaluate your claim, calculate the size of a proper and fair settlement, and advocate for the maximum available compensation. To learn how in a free consultation, call our office at (760) 630-2000.
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