A Caregiver’s Guide: After a Spinal Cord Injury

Unless you or a loved one experience a spinal cord injury, you will not understand the full impact of the injury on one’s life. According to the United Spinal Association, 40 to 45 percent of people with spinal cord injuries will require some personal assistance with their everyday activities. These activities consist of daily tasks we take for granted, like getting out of bed and dressing in whatever clothing we desire. After suffering from a spinal cord injury, there may be some medical decisions that you have not considered making before, like who will be your caregiver.

Not only do you need to choose the appropriate caregiver, but you also need to ensure you can pay for their services. You might hire a caregiver service, or a family member might forego their career to provide care. In either situation, caregivers are costly yet necessary resources.

If you suffered a spinal injury in a preventable accident, and you believe someone else was to blame. Discuss how you can seek compensation with a skilled spinal cord injury attorney.

New Dependence

Your spinal cord injury will require you to become accustomed to a new level of dependence. Depending on the nature of your injury, you might have to seek the assistance of a full-time caregiver. Your caregiver will be responsible for providing around-the-clock assistance for you.

Every aspect of your well-being—from personal needs, healthcare assistance, emotional needs, and household responsibilities—will be your caregiver’s responsibility. Because of the weight of this responsibility, who you decide to be your caregiver is an important decision you don’t want to take lightly.

How Should You Select a Caregiver Following a Spinal Cord Injury?

When selecting a caregiver, many spinal cord injury victims expect immediate family members or spouses to fill that position automatically. However, what if that option is just not a practical long-term solution?

Your spinal cord injury can change the dynamic of your entire household. Because your ability to make a living will be highly affected by your injury, your household can experience a significant financial strain. Your spouse or other family members may be the primary breadwinners and cannot afford to become your sole caregivers.

Caregiver Stress

In addition to the financial stress that comes with being a family caregiver, the emotional toll it takes on you and your loved one is just as detrimental. Even though your loved one cares for you, taking on the role of a caregiver will present a new stress level for them. They must come to terms with the fact that they will dedicate most of their time to catering to your needs. Many family members cannot cope with the physical and mental strain of that level of responsibility.

Burnout of Caregivers

One of the main reasons that family caregivers have a difficult time with their roles is due to burnout. There are many reasons why family members can experience burnout. Your caregiver may be your only support, which can put enormous stress on your loved one.

Your caregiver can get discouraged if your condition becomes worse, and you may question their effectiveness as a caregiver. Your caregiver can become so wrapped up in their role that they neglect their own needs for too long. These scenarios and more can significantly affect your caregiver’s physical and mental state and strain your relationship.

Caregiving Needs

Your options for selecting a caregiver derive from your caregiving needs. Maybe you need assistance with bathing or other personal care tasks. Maybe you need a companion you can confide in and speak to about your emotional concerns. Maybe you need additional attendants who can help with your household tasks. Maybe you need a caregiver who can cover every aspect of your caretaking needs. It depends on your limitations due to your spinal injury and what is important to you.

Long-Distance Caregivers

Many spinal cord injury victims do not know there are multiple choices they can make when selecting a caregiver. Outside of family members or spouses, spinal cord injury victims can hire long-distance caregivers to assist with their caretaking needs.

Long-distance caregivers provide additional assistance to dependents who live at least an hour away from them. Despite the title, there are many ways that long-distance caregivers can provide care for spinal cord injury victims. Some ways include assisting with money management, making arrangements for in-home medical care, and evaluating a home to ensure it is safe for the dependent’s needs.

Working Caregivers

Another type of caregiver is a working caregiver. A working caregiver is a caregiver who balances the responsibilities of a caregiver while remaining employed. Just like every other type of caregiver, working caregivers have their set of struggles to balance.

Some working caregivers have to arrange their work schedules around the needs of their dependents. Some working caregivers have to deal with taking unexpected leaves of absence and taking time off from work to meet their caregiving needs. Some working caregivers may have to consider changing occupations if their current position cannot accommodate their caregiving needs.

Caregiving Settings

Another critical issue that caregivers and spinal cord injury victims must consider is the environment where most caregiving will occur. While the spinal cord injury victim may want a caregiver who can assist with in-home medical care, the victim’s home may not be well equipped to support their needs. This lack of a proper setting may also lead to additional financial expenses like installing specific medical equipment into the home.

Some injury victims may need caregiving in a residential facility. Nursing homes may provide 24/7 medical assistance to spinal cord injury victims. Cost is an important factor when considering residential facility care.

Home Attendants

One solution that can seem like the best of both worlds is a home attendant. A home attendant is a caregiver who can assist with personal home care and all of your daily living necessities. While you may feel more comfortable receiving care from your family member, a home attendant can provide the additional assistance you and your immediate family need.

Having an additional set of hands can prevent your family member from being burned out and can even help to separate the roles between your family member and their caretaking responsibilities. The help that a home attendant provides can reduce the amount of stress that your family members will experience.

Home attendants might also be necessary if no family members are available.

Some additional benefits that home attendants provide include:

  • Separating the roles between family and caregivers. Your family members will not lose themselves in their role as caregivers with the help of a home attendant.
  • Reduces the amount of stress in the household. Having additional assistance can help to maintain the flow of a household. Instead of relying on one person to complete every task, a home attendant can divide the workload.
  • Help you achieve a sense of independence. A home attendant can assist with homecare at your disposal, granting you more opportunities to live a productive life after your injury.
  • Reduce the amount of tension between you and your loved one. Constantly worrying about caregiving responsibilities can cause your loved one to become resentful and depressed. With the presence of a home attendant, you and your loved one can focus on strengthening and maintaining your relationship.

Financial Issues

Why do many spinal cord injury victims fail to take advantage of home attendants? For many, the main reason revolves around finances. Spinal cord injury victims find themselves in serious debt following their injuries. Their medical bills quickly pile up, and the lack of a job and income can affect their financial situation. Disability benefits often cover very little compared to prior earnings.

Many home attendants receive hourly wages, possibly through medical assistance programs, which might limit the caregiving budget. Spinal cord injury victims may need to pay out-of-pocket if they want the long-term assistance of a home attendant.

Consider Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Spinal Cord Injury Caregiver GuideOne way spinal cord injury victims can obtain the money to pay for their home attendants is by filing a personal injury claim when eligible. When someone else’s conduct causes your spinal injury, you can use the claim process to seek compensation from the negligent party responsible for your accident. For example, suppose your spinal cord injury resulted from a motor vehicle accident. In that case, you can file a claim against the other driver and obtain compensation from their insurance company for your injury-related losses. This includes current and future caregiving costs.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

What Damages Can You Claim Following a Spinal Cord Injury?

When you seek compensation for your losses, you want to ensure you receive coverage of all financial and intangible losses.

These include:

  • Costs of all past and future medical treatment
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairment and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

You can also seek coverage of all your caregiving costs as part of your claim. This can be difficult to calculate, especially if you are unsure what type of caregiving services you will have.

Your injury lawyer can assist you in estimating your caregiving costs – now and into the future. This is a complex calculation, and you want to ensure you seek enough compensation. Once you receive a settlement or award, you can use those funds to pay caregivers for the coming years, no matter which type of caregiving you require.

If you do not receive enough to cover caregiving expenses for the rest of your life, you can be responsible for those costs. Always work with a legal professional who represents spinal injury victims, as they will know how to plan ahead and seek money for your future.

Benefits of Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Insurance companies understand spinal injury claims often demand high values. Still, insurers will try to reduce your payment as much as possible to protect the company’s bottom line. Companies have many tactics they use to deprive spinal injury victims of full compensation, and you need the right attorney to fight for the full value of your claim. Your lawyer can help in the following ways and more.

Filing Personal Injury Claims

Your lawyer can take full control of the claim process and reduce your stress. They will gather evidence of liability and damages and file a persuasive claim with the appropriate insurance companies. You should not even have to speak to an insurance company once you have legal representation.

Calculating Damages

Your lawyer can also assist you by providing an accurate estimate of your damages. Lawyers know how to value intangible damages and estimate future expenses. Regarding home attendants, lawyers can ensure that you include your future caregiving costs in your claim. Your lawyer can also include costs for other damages, such as your lost income from your previous position, pain and suffering you experienced after your accident, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Negotiating Settlements For You

When you are facing major expenses and cannot work, you might be anxious to receive a settlement check. Insurance companies know this, and they might offer a quick settlement that is far lower than you need. Never accept this offer without speaking to an attorney, as it can be highly detrimental to your future.

A lawyer can review settlement offers and determine if they are inadequate. Lawyers expect insurance companies to lowball claimants and can counteract their reasons for offering a low settlement amount. A skilled lawyer can use evidence to negotiate and persuade the insurance company to offer a settlement equal to or greater than your needs.

Call a Spinal Cord Lawyer for Help

Morgan Gaynor Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Morgan Gaynor, Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

After suffering a spinal cord injury, you deserve to have the best quality care that you need to continue living. You should not have to feel the burden of your caregiving needs, especially if your injury resulted from another person’s negligence. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you obtain the compensation you need to heal and properly move forward with your injury.


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September 19, 2022
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