Living With a Spinal Cord Injury Requires Having a Life Care Plan | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

As a Virginia Beach-based personal injury attorney who has helped many paralyzed clients in several East Coast states, I know that spinal cord injuries can result from many types of avoidable accidents. Car, truck and motorcycle crashes come immediately to mind when people think about what can leave someone unable to move or fully control their arms and legs. But pedestrians, bicyclists, industrial workers and individuals who slip and fall at businesses are also at risk for suffering paralyzing head, neck and back injuries.


My law firm takes a special interest in representing railroad employees who get hurt on the job, but we emphasize the importance of securing settlements that include sufficient funds for a life care plan for each of our spinal cord injury clients. Even after emergency surgeries and months of intensive rehabilitation therapy impose hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs, living day to day with a spinal cord injury while enjoying any degree of comfort and function requires considerable spending. The foundation established by Christopher Reeve and his wife posted a few eye-popping numbers on its website.

A life care plan for a person with limited or no use of their limbs can include

  • Purchasing, maintaining and regularly replacing assistive devices such as braces, walkers, bed lifts and wheelchairs;
  • Accessible transportation up to and including a customized vehicle;
  • Daily or weekly therapy;
  • In-home care ranging from weekly visits from a therapist to around-the-clock, live-in nursing;
  • Assisted living or nursing home care; and
  • Respite care to allow family caregivers take breaks to attend to their own physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Paying for a lifetime of, often, intensive medical treatments and extensive personal assistance is not cheap. Unsurprisingly, insurance companies do not welcome claims that include such costs. Even when the fault for a crash, workplace accident or mishap at a business clearly rests with its policyholder, an insurance company will contest spinal cord claims.

Fighting through the obstacles insurers put in the way of spinal cord injury victims requires gathering and presenting multiple types of evidence and, many times, winning a civil jury trial. Expert testimony from health care providers, economists and vocational experts helps, so do statements from family members who witness firsthand the struggles their loved one goes through.