The Unexpected Costs of Spinal Trauma
A spinal cord injury can change your life—and rarely for the better. In fact, the ripple effect of trauma to the spinal cord is usually so severe that a patient will be impacted in ways they never expected.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) will affect your overall health and well-being, both short term and long term, your lifestyle and career, and your family finances. If you or a loved one has been affected by a spinal cord injury, it is important to have all of the facts. And when another person’s actions caused your spinal injury, it is important to file a claim for compensation.
Not only do you need it, but this will ensure the same carelessness does not affect someone else. For assistance filing a claim, please contact the top Denver personal injury lawyers at Leventhal & Puga, P.C. We offer a no-cost initial consultation to review your case. If we can help you, we will do so at no upfront cost. Our clients come first.
Common Causes of Spinal Injury
While there are many causes of spinal cord injury, most traumatic injuries occur when the spine or neck is bent or compressed. Some causes include:
- Birth injuries
- Fall-related injuries
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Sports injuries, such as ski injuries or diving injuries
- Violence, such as gunshots and stab wounds
Among both genders, car wrecks, falls, and gunshots are the three leading causes of SCI, in that order. Among males, diving injuries ranked fourth, followed by motorcycle crashes. Among females, medical/surgical complications ranked fourth, followed by diving injuries (American Association of Neurological Surgeons).
The Symptoms of an SCI
You may notice a spinal injury immediately due to paralysis below the level of “insult” to the cord, but not all SCIs will lead to complete paralysis. Other common symptoms include (Hopkins Medicine):
- Muscle weakness in the trunk, arms, or legs
- Muscle spasticity
- Breathing problems
- Problems with heart rate and blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Loss of bowel and bladder function
- Sexual dysfunction
If an injury is forceful enough to fracture the spine, it is likely that you will also suffer significant damage to the chest and abdomen. Many associated injuries can be extremely serious. Respiratory diseases like pneumonia, heart disease, and infections are all associated with spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord injuries can also cause widespread and sustained brain inflammation leading to progressive loss of nerve cells, with associated cognitive problems and depression. Essentially, spinal cord injury patients can suffer brain damage and reduced cognitive ability in addition to other physical limitations (Science Daily).
Lifestyle Changes after an SCI
Lifestyle changes after a spinal cord will vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury and the parts of the body affected. Most notably, an SCI may affect how you eat, sleep, talk, travel, and work.
Physical and psychological therapy may become a routine part of life after a spinal injury. Physical therapy helps the majority of patients progress and overcome some mobility deficits, while psychological therapy helps patients cope with the depression and anxiety caused by an SCI. Those living with spinal cord injuries must also learn to advocate for themselves in situations that may have felt instinctive before the injury. Employment, housing, and education may all become challenging—but not impossible—obstacles.
The Costs of an SCI
The traumatic nature of spinal cord injuries, combined with chronic symptoms and ongoing therapy requirements, can make an SCI extremely costly. Medical expenses for immediate care and rehabilitation often exceed a million dollars in the first year of treatment alone.
Common sources of this high cost include spinal surgery, trauma care, multiple varieties of rehabilitative care, in-home aids, equipment such as a wheelchair, home modifications, and medication such as painkillers and antibiotics. In addition to the direct cost of medical care, patients and their families also pay for airfare, hotel rooms, and parking, all while losing wages and earning potential.
Who Is Liable for SCI Bills?
Lifestyle changes combined with the cost of a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. Many patients are left worrying not only about adjusting to their new way of life, but how they are going to pay the mounting bills. While medical insurance may cover some of the necessary care, it does not cover everything.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another person or company, they may be responsible for these costs. For example, if a child is born with a spinal cord injury due to medical negligence, the staff and the hospital may be held liable for damages. If a local pool has inaccurate or inadequate signage regarding depth and a loved one is injured diving, the pool owner may be responsible for the spinal cord injury.
Our founding partners, Jim Leventhal, recently achieved a long-fought verdict for one of his clients, a woman whose misdiagnosed cerebral aneurysm led to brain damage and almost complete paralysis. She received $8.3 million from a Kentucky jury, and will now be able to set up her own residence, pay for her care, and provide for her son. (Our trial lawyers handle claims across the United States, not just in Denver.)
Our team can help you determine whether or not another party may be liable for your injury, and what kind of damages you can expect to receive. If you or a loved one has recently suffered an SCI and would like to speak with a skilled lawyer, contact Leventhal & Puga, P.C. at (303) 759-9945 for a no-cost evaluation.