The Real Lifetime Costs of Living with Paralysis

Feb 20, 2018
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    The Real Lifetime Costs of Living with Paralysis

    If you or a loved one is living with paralysis after a serious spinal cord injury, your day-to-day life has probably been turned completely upside down. And in the middle of all this, you and your family also have to deal with the financial costs associated with paralysis, which pile up faster than most people could ever imagine.

    If you’re evaluating a potential settlement offer from the insurance company, thinking about filing a personal injury claim, or even just trying to understand your financial situation and what lies ahead after a spinal injury, the first step is understanding the long-term costs. 

    Medical Expenses for Victims With Paralysis Can Cost Millions 

    Healthcare-related costs are usually the first and most expensive costs that spinal cord injury (SCI) survivors face. Medical expenses for victims living with paraplegia (paralysis of the lower limbs) or quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs) will often include:

    • Emergency care after the accident
    • Spinal surgery
    • Long-term rehabilitation, including:
      • Physical and occupational therapy
      • Speech therapy
      • Mental health counseling
    • Prescription medications, including antibiotics and medications for pain management
    • Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, braces, and orthoses

    While it’s difficult to estimate the costs of all these medical expenses since they’re unique to each victim and vary widely, the total medical costs can easily reach into the millions of dollars.

    According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, victims with quadriplegia (which is also called tetraplegia) tend to pay about a million dollars for medical care in the first year after their injury and almost $200,000 per year for care after that. And those costs are only an average. Victims with especially severe injuries that require complex treatment may face even greater costs.

    For Spinal Injury Victims, Medical Expenses Are Just the Beginning 

    While the medical costs associated with paralysis are enormous, they’re only part of the equation. Since spinal cord injuries require specialized treatment, local hospitals may not be able to provide the long-term care and treatment you need.

    You may have to travel for medical care on a regular basis, which can create additional and ongoing expenses for gas, food, parking, and hotels. While these costs might seem small compared to your medical bills, they can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more over a lifetime of treatment.

    In addition, many victims with paraplegia or quadriplegia have to shoulder the burden of a lifetime’s worth of lost wages. According to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, only 11.7 percent of people with a spinal cord injury have a job one year after their injury, and at 20 years post-injury, the figure only rises to 35.2 percent. Depending on the victim’s earning power and their career track before the injury, an inability to work can mean millions of dollars in lost earnings over the course of their life.

    Finally, SCI survivors must deal with other “hidden” costs that tend to add up over time. These can include expenses related to:

    • Ongoing mental health treatment for common spinal cord injury-related issues like anxiety and depression
    • Treatment for health complications that are more common among people living with paralysis, like respiratory infections
    • Modifications to your vehicle(s) and home to accommodate the victim’s physical limitations

    When you add up the medical bills, travel costs, lost earnings, and other hidden expenses over the course of a lifetime, victims of severe spinal cord injuries and their families can bear long-term costs of $10 million or more as a result of the injury. 

    How an Attorney Can Help With Spinal Cord Injury Costs 

    While filing a lawsuit can’t restore a victim’s health and lifestyle to what they were before an injury, it can at least help you and your family address the massive costs associated with the injury, giving you some peace of mind and financial stability as the victim focuses on their recovery.

    When you work with an experienced attorney to file a personal injury claim, you may be able to receive compensation for all of the above expenses as well as your emotional pain and suffering. Doing so can help your family manage the costs of living with paralysis. It also serves to hold the negligent persons and companies who cause these injuries publicly accountable for their actions.

    Contact AMA Law if You’ve Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury in Oklahoma 

    A spinal cord injury can leave your family overwhelmed and facing incredible costs. If you’re struggling in this situation, the dedicated team of injury lawyers at AMA Law is here to help.

    With more than 100 years of combined experience and more than $100 million recovered for our clients, we’re ready to fight aggressively for justice and compensation on your behalf if we can take your case. We handle all personal injury claims on a “no recovery, no fee” basis, which means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.

    If you’ve been seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence, call us at 405-607-8757 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney from the AMA Law team today.


    Costs of living with SCI. (2018). Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Retrieved from

    Spinal cord injury facts and figures at a glance. (2012, February). National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Retrieved from

    The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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    (405) 607-8757