Of all of the possible injuries someone can suffer in a car crash, spinal cord injuries are among the most significant. Whether complete, meaning the trauma severed the spinal cord, or incomplete, meaning there is a possibility of recovery, the person with a spinal cord injury will likely require significant medical intervention.
Any spinal cord injury could also affect on their long-term earning potential, thus compounding the financial impact of the injury.
What is the average cost of caring for a spinal cord injury?
The location and the severity will impact its long-term financial costs. Incomplete injuries that affect motor function are often the least expensive, with a first-year cost of approximately $347,000 and another $42,000 in costs annually.
Paraplegia or complete spinal cord injuries affecting only the lower extremities will cost over $500,000 in the first year and about $69,000 each year after that. Tetraplegia can cost over a million dollars in care for the first year and will mean over $100,000, possibly closer to $200,000, in annual costs and financial losses.
The younger someone is at the time of their injury, the higher the likely lifetime costs. Additionally, the effect of the injury on someone’s career will also matter. Skilled and educated professionals who can continue working with reasonable accommodations may not have as much long-term expense as those unable to stay on the job.
Insurance alone likely won’t be enough
In theory, the liability insurance policy covering the driver who caused the crash can compensate a person who suffers from a spinal cord injury. Some drivers in New Jersey with a basic policy may only have $5,000 in property damage coverage and only $15,000 of medical coverage, although that could go up to $250,000.
Spinal cord injuries are among the few diagnoses that qualify a victim of a car crash for that higher limit of coverage. Still, even $250,000 will be less than what most spinal cord injuries will cost in just the first year. Negotiating for the most insurance compensation possible and looking at other options, like a personal injury lawsuit, can offset the massive financial impact of a spinal cord injury.