Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
According to information from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are approximately 291,000 people in the United States currently living with a spinal cord injury, and about 17,730 new spinal cord injuries each year. Most of the sufferers of this type of injury are male, and the average age to suffer a spinal cord injury is 43. Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious injuries a person can suffer, almost always causing life-altering impacts and secondary complications that can reduce life expectancy, as well as the quality of one’s life.
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury in Fort Lauderdale that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of someone else, you undoubtedly have questions as to how to pay the expenses associated with treating your injury, and how to move forward with your life. An experienced Fort Lauderdale spine injury attorney at Meldon Law can provide you with the legal answers you need.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. Extending from the base of the skull to the lower back, it is surrounded by ring-shaped bones called vertebrae. A spinal cord injury damages this nerve bundle, which affects the sensation and function of various parts of the body below the injury site. The higher up the injury site is, the more body parts are affected.Spinal cord injuries are described in one of two ways:
- Complete injuries: Result in loss of all function and sensation below the injury site.
- Incomplete injuries: There is some function and sensation below the injury site.
Contrary to popular belief, the spinal cord does not have to be severed for loss of function to occur. In fact, most people with spinal cord injuries have an intact spinal cord.There are four sections to the spinal cord:
- Cervical spine: This is the area of the spine that is located in the neck. Injury to this area of the cord could result in tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, which is loss of sensation and function to the shoulders, arms, hands, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet.
- Thoracic spine: This area of the spine is found in the upper back. Injuries to the thoracic spine may result in paraplegia, which is loss of sensation and function to the pelvis, legs, and feet.
- Lumbar spine: This part of the spine is located in the middle of the back. Injuries to the lumbar spine may result in some loss of sensation and function to the hips and legs.
- Sacral spine: Located in the lower back, injuries to this area may also result in some loss of function to the hips and spine.
What Are the Secondary Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries?
In addition to paralysis, spinal cord injuries present a host of potential secondary complications, some of which can be life-threatening; these include:
- Autonomic dysreflexia: A life-threatening condition caused by the body’s inability to regulate its blood pressure after a spinal cord injury. The condition is usually triggered by an irritant below the site of the injury, including issues involving the urinary system or the bowel, including a urinary tract infection or an impacted bowel.
- Bladder and bowel issues
- Deep vein thrombosis: A blood clot occurring within the deep veins of the leg. Potentially life-threatening, as it can lead to the blood clot breaking free and traveling to the lung. This is known as a pulmonary embolism.
- Respiratory issues: Some spinal cord injury patients are at high risk of developing respiratory issues, such as pneumonia, due to the inability to cough or clear mucus from the lungs. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among spinal cord injury patients who survive the initial hours and days following the injury.
- Pressure ulcers: Also known as bedsores, this condition presents as irritated, broken, or infected skin caused by the body remaining in one position too long.
- Spasticity: Involuntary muscle spasms which can lead to poor sleep and chronic pain for spinal cord injury patients.
How Expensive Are Spinal Cord Injuries?
Treatment for a spinal cord injury and secondary complications can result in astronomical expenses. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, patients can expect the following average costs, dependent on the severity of the injury:
- Patients suffering high tetraplegia can expect first-year medical costs of more than $1.1 million; and annual costs each year after that of $196,107. The estimated lifetime costs of a 25-year-old suffering this injury severity is more than $5 million. For a 50-year-old with high tetraplegia, lifetime medical costs will be in the range of $2.7 million.
- Patients with a spinal cord injury resulting in low tetraplegia face first-year costs of around $816,000; and annual costs for the following years of $120,303. Estimated lifetime costs for a 25-year-old are around $3.7 million; and for a 50-year-old, costs are around $2.3 million.
- Patients with paraplegia can expect to pay around $550,000 for first-year medical expenses; and around $73,000 per year after that. They can expect to pay about $2.45 million throughout their lives if they are 25 at the time of the injury; and $1.6 million if they are 50 at the time of the injury.
- Those who experience a loss of motor function at any level may pay around $368,562 in the first year. For subsequent years, medical costs will be around $44,766. Throughout the lifetime of a 25-year-old suffering loss of motor function, medical expenses will be in the range of $1.67 million. The lifetime expenses of a 50-year-old with motor function loss will be approximately $1.18 million.
In addition to medical costs, spinal cord injury patients can expect other expenses, including the cost of home modifications to accommodate the injury, assistive devices such as wheelchairs and accessible vehicles, and the cost of hiring an in-home personal care aide.
Are You Dealing With a Spinal Cord Injury in Fort Lauderdale? Meldon Law Can Help
If another person’s negligence paralyzed you, and now you’re drowning in bills, call Meldon Law. Doing so can empower you to fight for the compensation you need to pay for the treatments and mobility devices you need to regain independence and resume your life.Call us at (954) 334-1276 or write to us using our online contact form. If you have trouble coming to our offices, we can come to you and listen to your story.