A spinal cord injury is one of the most serious personal injuries that can result from an accident. If the spine suffers damage, the victim could permanently lose function and feeling below the point of injury.
It may be possible for a victim to recover the lifelong costs of a spinal cord injury from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, the statute of limitations to file a spinal cord injury claim in California is two years.
Past and future medical expenses
Catastrophic spine injuries can result in paralysis, which typically results in lifelong medical expenses to fulfill the patient’s unique needs. The average medical costs over a lifetime (for a victim who is 25 years old) can vary depending on the type of disability:
- Low-level motor function disability: $1,580,148
- Paraplegia: $2,312,846
- Low tetraplegia: $3,455,879
- High tetraplegia: $4,729,788
Every case is different, and even with a low-level spinal cord injury, a victim could pay much more than $1 million in medical costs alone over a lifetime. Medical costs may include surgeries, rehabilitation, therapies, medications, medical devices, live-in care, and home or vehicle disability modifications.
Lost wages and lost capacity to earn
The lifetime costs of a spine injury also include lost income from missed work opportunities. After suffering a spinal cord injury, a victim will most likely need time off work for surgery and recovery. This can result in tens of thousands of dollars of lost income. If the injury is permanently disabling, the victim may be entitled to compensation for future missed income due to lost capacity to earn.
Noneconomic costs of a spinal cord injury
Medical bills and lost wages are two of the most common economic costs to victims. In California, patients can also pursue financial recovery for noneconomic losses. A victim could receive significant compensation for damages such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, lost quality of life and loss of consortium.