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Will that settlement offer cover the long-term cost of paralysis?

Whether you face the rest of your life as a quadriplegic (also called tetraplegic) or paraplegic after an accident, the insurance companies will more than likely offer you settlements far below what you need. In the face of increasing medical costs, your inability to work (at least in the beginning) and other expenses, you might consider taking a settlement offer out of fear and panic. You should consider resisting that urge because it provides only a short-term solution to a long-term condition.

What long-term requirements do I face?

Even when doctors release you from the hospital, you still face the following expenses related to paralysis, some of them for the rest of your life:

  • Mobility devices such as scooters or wheelchairs
  • Modifications to your vehicle and home
  • Future medical expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Occupational rehabilitation
  • Decreased income potential
  • In-home care
  • Nursing care

The lifetime cost of these expenses depends on your age and the severity of your injury.

What do these needs translate to in terms of money?

In 2015, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center published data regarding the cost of paralysis over time. The center gathered data between 2010 and 2014. The center calculated the average yearly costs associated with paralysis as follows:

  • First year:
    • High tetraplegia (injuries to C1-C4): approximately $1,064,716
    • Low tetraplegia (injuries to C5-C8): approximately $769,351
    • Paraplegia: approximately $518,904
    • Incomplete motor function (any level): approximately $347,484
  • Per year thereafter:
    • High tetraplegia (injuries to C1-C4): approximately $184,891
    • Low tetraplegia (injuries to C5-C8): approximately $113,423
    • Paraplegia: approximately $68,739
    • Incomplete motor function (any level): approximately $42,206

Therefore, a 25-year-old with an average life span faces total lifetime expenses as follows:

  • High tetraplegia (injuries to C1-C4): approximately $4,724,181
  • Low tetraplegia (injuries to C5-C8): approximately $3,451,781
  • Paraplegia: approximately $2,310,104
  • Incomplete motor function (any level): approximately $1,578,274

A 50-year-old with an average life span faces total lifetime expenses as follows:

  • High tetraplegia (injuries to C1-C4): approximately $2,596,329
  • Low tetraplegia (injuries to C5-C8): approximately $2,123,154
  • Paraplegia: approximately $1,516,052
  • Incomplete motor function (any level): approximately $1,113,990

Please note that these estimates only include medical costs and living expenses. They do not include other financial losses you sustain such as a loss of income and other damages. More than likely, any settlement offered to you by an insurance company does not come close to these estimates. Your financial losses also depend on your level of education, your career prior to the accident and other factors.

Before you even consider accepting a settlement offer, you would probably benefit from speaking with an attorney here in New York City who can explain your rights, help you calculate the actual cost of your condition over your lifetime and provide you with options. Even though it could take more time, allowing an attorney to advocate on your behalf with the insurance companies could provide you with the compensation you deserve. If that compensation cannot be negotiated, the filing of a personal injury claim might.

You need time to adjust to your new circumstances. Let someone else help you with the financial issues you face now and in the future.

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