Posted on: 30 August 2017
One of the most difficult things to face during a marriage is when a spouse has been in a car accident and sustained a severe injury to their cervical spine and now has high tetraplegia. Seeing your spouse in a hospital bed struggling to survive is emotionally challenging, of course. But then, to make matters worse, the enormity of the change in your financial situation due to someone's negligence can leave your mind reeling. Here's what you need to know if your spouse has high tetraplegia.
What is high tetraplegia?
High tetraplegia is seriously debilitating due to the location of the injury in the upper portion of the spine called the cervical spine, which is in the neck. The higher the spinal cord injury is, the more the injury affects your body. The reason for this is because the nerves below the injuries cannot relay messages as they should. This failure to relay messages can be complete (no feeling and control) or incomplete (partial feeling and control).
What are the symptoms of high tetraplegia?
As you may already know, symptoms of high tetraplegia include paralysis from the neck down, whether complete or incomplete. Your spouse may be unable to breathe on their own and might require the assistance of a ventilator. He or she may not be able to speak or, if they can, their speech is greatly hindered. Your spouse needs complete assistance with all daily living activities, although he or she may be able to use a powered wheelchair in time.
As an important note, ongoing care is critical in preventing pneumonia and sepsis in patients with high tetraplegia.
How costly is it to take care of someone with high tetraplegia?
Due to the amount of care that is needed, caring for a high tetraplegic can be extremely high in costs. According to statistics provided by the NSCISC (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center), during the first year after sustaining their injuries, high tetraplegia patients can expect $1,065,980 in expenses. Those aged 25 years at the time of injury can expect costs of as much as $4,729,788 over their lifetime. Due to these alarming costs, it is crucial for high tetraplegia patients to seek compensation for their personal injuries whenever possible, especially when injuries are due to someone's negligence.
Can you seek compensation for your spouse?
It's highly likely that your spouse has their full mental capacity unless they also suffered a severe head trauma. However, your spouse should focus on their health and healing and may not be able to physically and emotionally handle the demands of seeking compensation for their injury. He or she may not be physically or emotionally able to deal with legal issues while seeking compensation for their injuries.
Fortunately, you can seek compensation with what is called loss of consortium. However, it's important to understand your state's laws regarding this matter before moving forward, as some states limit the monetary compensation in loss of consortium cases. Because of this, you'll want to speak with a personal injury attorney for legal advice and representation.
Another option is to become your spouse's guardian. This is an option in many states when someone has suffered a catastrophic injury such as high tetraplegia and they are legally incapacitated. Legally incapacitated is a legal term used in the court system, and it means that someone has a mental or physical deficiency that prevents them from making rational decisions or acting responsibly, such as being able to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you become your spouse's guardian, you can then act on their behalf and file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused your spouse's injury.Share