What does a spinal cord injury cost? The cost depends on the severity of the injury and your age when the injury occurs, but if your spinal cord is injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, a Chicago personal injury attorney may be able to help with the costs.

About 250,000 people in the United States live with a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries are a consequence of damage to ligaments, vertebrae, spinal column discs, and/or the spinal cord itself. These injuries often cause permanent disability in children as well as adults.

Spinal cord damage may be the result of a sudden blow to the spine that dislocates, crushes, fractures, or compresses one or more vertebrae. You may not even realize that you’ve sustained a spinal cord injury until bleeding, swelling, and inflammation begin several weeks later.

THE CAUSES OF SPINAL CORD INJURIES

What are the causes of spinal cord injuries? In the United States, the leading causes are:

1. Vehicle accidents: Auto, motorcycle, and truck collisions are the number one reason for spinal cord injuries.

2. Sports and recreational injuries: Injuries sustained in sports and recreational activities account for nearly ten percent of all spinal cord injuries in the United States.

3. Tripping or slipping and falling: For seniors in the U.S., tripping or slipping and falling is a top cause of spinal cord injuries.

4. Criminal violence: The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that approximately fifteen percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of knife or gun wounds.

WHAT ARE THE ESTIMATED COSTS?

Spinal cord damage could prevent you from ever working again. You may need lifelong medical care that could – especially if you are injured in your 20s or 30s – easily cost several million dollars. These cost estimates are provided by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center:

1. For a spinal cord injury that results in incomplete paraplegia sustained at age 25, the estimated lifetime cost surpasses $1.5 million. If the injury is sustained at age 50, the estimated lifetime cost exceeds $1.1 million.

2. For spinal cord damage that results in full paraplegia sustained at age 25, the estimated lifetime cost surpasses $2.3 million. If the injury is sustained at age 50, the estimated lifetime cost exceeds $1.5 million.

3. For spinal cord damage that causes incomplete quadriplegia sustained at age 25, the estimated lifetime cost surpasses $3.4 million. If the injury is sustained at age 50, the estimated lifetime cost exceeds $2.1 million.

4. For spinal cord damage that causes complete quadriplegia sustained at age 25, the estimated lifetime cost surpasses $4.7 million. If the injury is sustained at age 50, the estimated lifetime cost exceeds $2.5 million.

AFTER AN ACCIDENT, HAVE A MEDICAL EXAMINATION

If you are disabled permanently with spinal cord damage because another person was negligent, you will need the maximum amount of compensation that’s available, and you will need to be advised and represented by a personal injury attorney who can win that compensation for you.

After an accident, or if you suffer any blow to the spine, swift and appropriate medical treatment may prevent further damage to the spinal cord.

Even if you don’t feel injured, have a medical exam after an accident. That way, if there’s damage to the spinal cord that’s difficult to detect, you’ll know, and you’ll create the medical evidence that you’ll need if you file a personal injury claim.

DON’T ACCEPT A QUICK SETTLEMENT OFFER

If another driver’s negligence is the reason you sustain spinal cord damage, and if you bring an injury claim against that motorist, expect his or her insurance company to offer you a “lowball” settlement figure that doesn’t come close to what you’ll need.

Reject that offer and refer the insurance company to your injury attorney. Do not make a formal statement, sign any insurance document, or agree to any settlement before you’ve consulted with your attorney. Let your attorney answer the questions and negotiate on your behalf.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY VICTIMS

If you or someone you love has been disabled by a spinal cord injury, consider learning more about how others deal with their injuries and disabilities. A number of groups throughout the Chicago area offer support and resources to victims and their families.

There is now some real hope for patients with the most severe spinal cord injuries. Researchers are reportedly making breakthroughs by using electrode therapy to stimulate patients’ spinal cords. New treatments, therapies, and breakthroughs, however, are sure to be expensive.

HOW ARE MOST INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED IN ILLINOIS?

Even if you won’t be permanently disabled and your prognosis is good, a spinal cord injury may keep you away from work for a number of months, and during that time, you may have no way to pay your medical bills and monthly expenses.

Be careful. This is when you might be tempted by a settlement offer that’s far less than the actual value of your personal injury claim. The right personal injury attorney can negotiate a much more generous settlement.

Personal injury cases in Illinois are almost always resolved through private negotiations. In most cases, an injured victim of negligence is not even required to appear in court.

However, if no reasonable settlement offer is made in the out-of-court negotiations, your injury attorney may advise you to take the case to court. Your lawyer may even suggest retaining a medical authority to provide expert testimony to the jurors.

IT COSTS NOTHING TO LEARN MORE

Your first consultation with a Chicago personal injury attorney is without cost or obligation. What you’re reading is only an overview of spinal cord injuries and your rights. Your attorney will provide personalized advice regarding how the law applies to your own case.

Getting started costs nothing. If you file a personal injury claim, you will pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your claim prevails and you’ve received the compensation you need.

A serious spinal cord injury can very negatively disrupt your life, but a personal injury lawyer can help you move constructively and positively into the years ahead. If you’re injured by negligence in Illinois, you have the right to compensation, and the law will be on your side.