What Is the Average Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury?


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What Is the Average Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries are some of the most devastating injuries we see at Emroch & Kilduff. Injured victims not only require extensive medical treatments, they often cannot resume their ordinary lives, including returning to work. As a result, spinal cord injuries can cost millions of dollars. Victims and their families need compensation to help them put the pieces of their lives back together again.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Any damage to the spinal cord can result in loss of mobility or sensation. The spinal cord might tear or bruise, compromising a person’s coordination or sense of touch. However, when an accident completely severs the spinal cord, victims suffer from paralysis from that point down.

Doctors classify spinal cord injuries as follows:

  • Incomplete: Some movement and sensation below the injury is possible.
  • Complete: No movement or sensory function is possible below the injury.
  • Paraplegia: Weakness or paralysis in the legs as a result of an injury to the spine.
  • Tetraplegia: Weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs as a result of an injury in the cervical spine area. Tetraplegia can be “high” when the injury occurs in the first four cervical vertebrae, or “low” when the injury occurs in the lower four cervical vertebrae.

The Cost of Living with a Spinal Cord Injury

The amount spent will depend on the spinal cord injury as well as the person’s age. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has estimated the costs as follows:

  • Incomplete motor function: $347,484 in the first year, and $42,206 in subsequent years
  • Paraplegia: $518,904 in the first year, and $68,739 in subsequent years
  • Low tetraplegia: $769,351 in the first year, and $113,423 in subsequent years
  • High tetraplegia: $1,064,716 in the first year, and $184,891 in subsequent years

The high cost in the first year stems from the cost of surgeries to stabilize the spine, with some people requiring multiple surgeries.

The average estimated costs depend on when the injury took place:

  • Incomplete motor function: $1,578,274 for an injury sustained at age 25, or $1,113,990 at age 50
  • Paraplegia: $2,310,104 at 25 or $1,516,052 at 50
  • Low tetraplegia: $3,451,781 at 25 or $2,123,154 at 50
  • High tetraplegia: $4,724,181 at 25 or $2,596,329 at 50

Other Costs

The estimates from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation are only for medical care and support. They do not include other costs, such as lost wages.

Although some people with spinal cord injuries can return to work, others will never return to their old jobs, or to any other job. For a true sense of the total economic losses someone will suffer as a result of a spinal cord injury, an experienced attorney will add these lost wages to the medical bills.

Furthermore, these costs do not include intangible harms, such as emotional distress, mental agony, or loss of companionship and society. These harms could add up to more than the economic losses, especially when someone suffers a total loss of sensation or movement in the body.

Talk to a Virginia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury, Virginia law may entitle you to compensation. At Emroch & Kilduff, our attorneys can calculate your economic and non-economic losses and build a compelling case for compensation. To schedule a free consultation, please call (804) 358-1568 or submit our contact form.