When someone loses a limb, the impact is enormous. Everything changes at that moment. First, there are immediate, physical repercussions. You’re in a great deal of pain that must be overcome. Once the initial pain is treated, you may even experience phantom pains, where you feel sensations in a limb that is no longer present.
Then, of course, there is the emotional pain. Some people find themselves feeling incomplete. Clearly, they are just as valid as anyone else, but the psychological trauma may be telling them otherwise.
What we sometimes fail to consider is the economic effects of a lost limb. Just how much should a survivor of a lost appendage expect to pay for treatment? It’s a lot of money, and the costs come in unexpected ways.
The most obvious, immediate cost expectation is medical. Treatment isn’t as simple as just treating the wounds. There are likely to be several surgeries, including procedures needed to stave off new problems. Therapy and rehabilitation treatments will be scheduled, including multiple sessions over long periods of time. As far back as 2002, studies showed that the medical expenses alone estimated over $500,000 for amputees. Given inflation, that number would be over $730,000 today, not including any new, expensive treatments that have been developed since.
Your injury may require a prosthetic device. There are several expenses associated with these, as well. There’s the cost of the device itself along with any surgical implementation required. Also, you will likely need therapy sessions to learn how to use your device. If it is removable, you’ll want to update it with new devices over time, which could also require training. If left unable to walk, you’ll have to go through all of those same procedures with your new wheelchair.
Sometimes, one ailment creates another. For example, an otherwise healthy person with Type 1 diabetes may develop heart issues. This is called “comorbidity,” where one issue causes another. Although the other problem is treated separately, it’s acknowledged that it wouldn’t exist without the initial medical problem.
Losing a limb comes with several potential comorbidity issues. Some may be immediate. Your wound could become infected or lead to blood clots, which require urgent attention. Maybe you are having circulation issues now, which need treatment right away. Not all comorbidity is immediate. Imagine how the imbalance of a lost limb can affect the rest of your frame. To compensate for your lost limb, you may start putting more strain on different bones and muscles. This leads to new issues doctors must treat. What if your injury has limited your mobility? This could lead to weight gain and even obesity. Obesity by itself leads to several other comorbidity concerns.
All of these things will have to be treated, and the costs will be significant.
Your employment could be affected by an amputation. Clearly, a laborer may need to pursue a new line of work if they’ve lost a limb, but even a writer who loses a finger can be affected. Not only could your current income be affected, but future earning potential could also be impacted. Your physical limitations can affect your ability to advance in certain fields.
When someone is hurt, there are other costs involved that we don’t often consider medical expenses, but we should. Imagine someone you love experiences something as drastic as losing a limb. You want to be by their side. You may spend money on travel and hotel expenses. You might need to take time off work, which, at the very least, eats into your time-off hours. And what happens when you arrive? You still need to feed yourself, bathe yourself, and have clean clothes. How long will you be there? What about food and drinks at the hospital?
You’re also going to want something to do while you are there. Your recovering loved one needs something to do as well. Maybe you’ll spend a little extra on puzzle books, video games, or cellphone apps. When someone is stuck in the hospital and you are by their side, you should absolutely consider entertainment as a medical expense. These are just some of the ways that an injury gets expensive beyond the treatment.
Depending on the injury, it may be necessary to modify the home. Stairs may need to be replaced by ramps, and bathrooms could need an update. You may even need new furniture to accommodate the injury. These are not small additions. Your entire home could look different from the ground up. Even something like adding another handrail to a staircase can cost a pretty penny.
Consider a home with a lot of people. What if your injuries required moving people around? Your upstairs may no longer be an option, so now everyone has to shift. This could cost money as well. Maybe you spend money employing movers, but you could also have to buy new furniture. That king-size bed isn’t going to fit into your new room. Any homeowner knows that even simple redecorations cost money, much less a complete upheaval of everyone in the house.
Another possible expense could be a total upgrade of your car. You may need to have the braking system gutted and reinstalled near the steering wheel. Maybe altering your car isn’t going to be an option, and you’ll have to get a whole new ride that’s already disabled-ready.
This won’t be the first time you’ll need to put money into the car. Everything we use breaks down. Eventually, you’ll have to update modifications or just get a whole new car. Every time you go car shopping, you’ll need to go through the extra expense of modifying the vehicle or buying an expensive, already-modified vehicle.
Even if you are eventually able to reach full functionality, you may require in-home care for a bit. Some people may need it permanently. These services do not come cheap, and they only increase the bill for your injury.
Don’t allow the financial costs of your injury to paralyze you emotionally while you are rehabilitating physically. You are not in this alone. A lawyer may be able to help you recover damages for your injury, easing the burden. In some cases, attorneys can go after insurance companies and help get all your expenses covered. Your healing and relearning how to live is going to be hard enough, so let someone else help free you of any additional financial burden.
If you’ve lost an appendage due to an injury, contact us today. For a free consultation, you can reach us online or call (850) 764-0383.