Page Updated: September 19, 2021
Spinal Cord Stimulator Settlement
If you need a spinal cord stimulator, it means you will have a lifetime of medical upkeep and surgeries in your future.
This means high costs, and even higher physical pain and recovery time as a spinal cord stimulator battery needs to be changed every few years.
In this article you will learn about:
♦ What is a spinal cord stimulator
♦ What affects your spinal cord stimulator car accident settlement
♦ Average settlement values in spinal cord stimulator lawsuits
♦ Spinal cord stimulator disability ratings
More detail on these topics and more can be found be scrolling down below.
Clickable Table of Contents
9 – About the Author
Spinal Cord Stimulators
The Need for Spinal Cord Stimulators
When you are in an accident you can suffer multiple injuries like whiplash, headaches, neck pain, arm pain, back pain, leg pain, or spinal and brain injuries.
This can happen in both minor and major accidents, including in car accidents and workers comp claim related accidents.
Certain injuries, like spinal injuries, can take a long time to heal and in some cases, never fully heal, leading to chronic pain which can be debilitating for your daily life and activities, making everything from eating to sitting and even laying down painful activities.
Chronic pain can wear a person down leading to other chronic health problems such as depression, weight gain, and reliance on medications which all have their own side effects.
If your chronic pain comes from a spinal injury, and does not go away with other less intrusive treatments that have been tried so far, a final solution may be a spinal cord stimulator.
What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator
A spinal cord stimulator is a medical device that is placed into your back in a surgical process that helps this device address the sensors or nerves that transmit information from your brain to the body and back.
A spinal cord stimulator helps by disrupting these signals so that your brain is not constantly receiving these pain signals from the injured area of your body.
Benefits of a Spinal Cord Stimulator
The spinal cord simulator therefore has many benefits for you as it helps to both treat and monitor many forms of chronic pain including:
♦ Nerve-related pain
♦ Pain in the hip
♦ Post-operative pain
♦ Pelvic pain
♦ Peripheral vascular disease
Spinal cord stimulation will increase the overall quality of life and sleep and lower the need for prescription pain products.
It is usually used for pain management, but may be accompanied with other treatment modalities, including medications, exercise, physical therapy and other therapeutic techniques, and other therapies.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Settlement Factors
Spinal Cord Stimulator Increases Settlement Because it Indicates Gravity of Injuries
The process for understanding what affects your spinal stimulator settlement starts with knowing what the procedure is to implant one of these devices into your body.
This is a last resort medical procedure, so the very fact that you have one of these implanted means that you have pain that has not been able to be addressed with any other treatments.
The lawsuit amount already has a chance of being high because of this fact because the stimulator is not a cure for your pain but rather it is a pain management treatment.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Requires Surgery, Thereby Increasing Settlement Values
The procedure itself is invasive and requires local anesthesia which is applied and the patient then sedated.
This is followed by a hollow needle being placed into the spinal canal and small incisions made for parts of the permanent device segments to be implanted into the back. This placement often also requires the removal of a small bone called the lamina bone to make room for the device.
Once the patient is awake, there is a second part of the procedure that happens when the patient is alert and can ensure the device’s electrodes are being placed correctly.
The patient is again sedated and incisions are made and a generator/ stimulator is then placed under the skin.
Types of Spinal Cord Stimulators
There are three types of stimulators that are generally used:
♦ Conventional implantable pulse generator (IPG): A spinal code stimulator which is battery-operated. During an operation, a battery is mounted inside the spine. The battery must be replaced by another surgery until it runs out.
♦ Rechargeable IPG: Functions similarly to the traditional system, with the exception that without another surgery, the battery can be recharged.
♦ Radiofrequency Stimulator: Has battery that’s outside the body is used. Due to newer designs and improved technology, this stimulator is seldom used now a days.
The best effort is made to find a comfortable place for the generator, but regardless, the generator will need to be changed every few years, which means if you need this procedure, it will not be a one time event, and that in itself increases spinal cord stimulator settlement amounts.
Recovery And Efficacy of Spinal Cord Stimulator Procedure
Most patients may leave the hospital the same day of their procedure once the anesthesia has worn off.
For several days after surgery, the incisions may be painful and you should try not to stretch, twist or reach, which could pull at the incisions. Following surgery, incisions heal within around 2-4 weeks.
Stimulation does not relieve a pain-causing disease. Instead, it allows patients to monitor the pain.
Most are helped with this device but anywhere from 30% to 40% of people with this device are not helped as much as they would like.
The effectiveness of the procedure can have an impact on your settlement value.
Just imagine that you go through this procedure and have this terrible device in your back, and it does not even eliminate your pain. It simply reduces it. The remaining pain is recoverable, as is you having to endure this process.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Complications
Spinal cord stimulator surgery complications are rare, but no procedure is without risk. A small proportion of patients may experience:
♦ An infection
♦ Blood clots
♦ Bad reactions to anesthesia
♦ Migration of the device
♦ Follow-up operations to fix migration
♦ Severe headaches can be caused by these punctures.
♦ Spinal cord injury
A major part of your settlement can be from these complications which can lead to problems like compression, paralysis, allergic reactions and persistent pain at the site of the implant, which all will increase your settlement value.
Even if you do not suffer complications, the risk of complications and fear of same should be baked into your settlement.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Maintenance Costs Increase Settlements
Spinal Cord Stimulator Insertion Costs Are Recoverable in Settlements
The cost and maintenance of the spinal cord stimulator adds to the compensation values that you will likely get.
The procedure itself costs anywhere from $5,000-$12,000, but this is just the average of a one-time initial cost for those with health insurance. Without health insurance this one time cost balloons up to $19,000-$47,000.
If you are in a major metropolitan area like Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., those costs can extend beyond $75,000.
Future Medical Costs for Spinal Cord Stimulator Maintenance Increases Settlements
The follow up costs which are inevitable for this treatment need to be negotiated and prepared for in future medical damage claims to ensure that you are not left holding the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical fees for future surgeries to replace and maintain the stimulator.
A spinal cord stimulator is an expensive treatment not only because of the initial cost but because the battery for the device needs to be changed every 2-5 years on average.
In addition to this, each time the device is taken out and replaced, there is downtime for the treatment and the need for medication.
In a previous case a lawyer on our team handled, these costs were calculated to be approximately $25,000 to occur every 5 years.
For a young victim, that can add up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and recoverable settlement money.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Car Accident Settlement
Spinal Cord Stimulator Car Accident Basics
Being forced to get a spinal cord stimulator after a car accident is a big deal.
You are stuck with something almost the size of an iphone implanted in your back, that needs battery changes every few years until the day you die.
Spinal cord stimulator car accident settlements need to take this all into consideration in relation to your age.
A person who is only 30 can expect to have another 8-12 of these same surgeries over the course of their life and this needs to be argued for in any settlement with the insurance company to ensure a fair settlement value that can cover the cost of future medical expenses.
Sample Spinal Cord Stimulator Car Accident Settlement
One of the lawyers on our team handled a car accident case where the victim had a spinal cord stimulator after her car accident.
It was a difficult case because there was zero visible property damage to the client’s car. No property damage cases are notoriously difficult due to biases against those claims.
There is little scientific correlation between property damage and injuries, but still, the bias exists.
Despite that, and despite being in a conservative jurisdiction notorious for not giving car accident plaintiffs a fair shake, this client did incredibly well.
The insurance company tried offering peanuts at first, and the lawyer on our team rejected that.
Then, the case went to mediation after a hard fought deposition. A $250,000 offer from the insurance company was rejected at mediation.
Not long after, the case settled for $300,000.
Needless to say, this client was very happy.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Settlement Averages
Settlement Ranges for Spinal Cord Stimulator Claims
Spinal cord stimulator averages tend to be high because of the need for constant follow up surgeries.
This should ensure that you future surgeries, which can run anywhere from $250,000-$500,000 on average just for follow up surgeries, should be baked into your settlement.
Some averages are even higher with some cases going well over $1,000,000 which is even more likely when the spinal cord stimulator is coupled with other surgeries and treatments and the victim is very young.
The average amounts across all states similarly tends to remain high because the need for the surgeries are almost guaranteed and have a similar cost across the country.
But as mentioned above, for major cities these costs can be two times or greater than the national averages.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Workers Comp Settlement
Some cases of spinal cord injury and spinal cord injury stimulator are harder than others.
This is the case in spinal cord stimulator workers comp settlement cases.
In these cases, there is the need to satisfy a few rules to be able to qualify for the highest possible benefits that you are entitled to.
This generally means that you need to be able to show permanent and total disability and also show loss of wages and quality of life which create a scenario that shows the impact of your injuries and the effect it is having on you as an individual.
Spinal cord stimulator workers comp settlements apply all the principles outlined above.
Why? Because the battery life, surgical procedure, and future treatment does not change just because your injury happened at work versus a car accident. The medicine stays the same, and your workers comp settlement value will be within the same ranges discussed above if you end up with a spinal cord stimulator.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Injury Q&A
How frequently will my spinal cord stimulator need to be changed?
A spinal cord stimulator will need to be changed on average every 2-5 years for most individuals. This means you may need anywhere from 8-12 more surgeries over the course of your life to maintain these devices, depending on your age.
Are there complications that can come from a spinal cord stimulator?
Yes, there are many complications that can come from a spinal cord stimulator surgery. The spinal cord is a delicate part of the body and even the smallest disturbances can have a severely negative impact on your well-being. The complications can include bruising, numbness, paralysis, and pain just to name a few complications.
What can I do to increase my spinal stimulator settlement?
To strengthen your spinal stimulator settlement, the best thing you can do is make sure you have experiences counsel on your side. While some cases may seem easy to navigate on your own or research online, this is not the case for a spinal stimulator claims. For example, you need a neurosurgeon expert to prepare a future life care plan with treatment costs. These cases can yield very high payouts and should be handled with care and detail from day one.
What impacts a spinal cord stimulator workers comp settlement case?
The biggest factors for spinal cord stimulator workers comp cases are the severity of your injury, the level of disability there is in your life and how much your quality of life has been affected. Accurate damages evidence is needed to accomplish that in a way that does not set you up for impeachment.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Claim Help
A spinal cord stimulator is a lifelong medical device, and one that means the need for constant medical follow-up. If you have one of these devices, you need to make sure that any settlement you receive takes your future medical expenses into consideration.
Don’t let the insurance company convince you that you do not deserve the maximum payout for your future medical expenses. Contact us today by calling, emailing, or messaging us using the contact form below for a free consultation so we can help you win a settlement you deserve.
Citations for Supporting Literature & Resources:
Gupta, M., Abd-Elsayed, A., & Knezevic, N. N. (2020). Improving care of chronic pain patients with spinal cord stimulator therapy amidst the opioid epidemic. Neurological Sciences, 1-8.
Harkema, S. J., Ditterline, B. L., Wang, S., Aslan, S., Angeli, C. A., Ovechkin, A., & Hirsch, G. A. (2018). Epidural spinal cord stimulation training and sustained recovery of cardiovascular function in individuals with chronic cervical spinal cord injury. JAMA neurology, 75(12), 1569-1571.
West, C. R., Phillips, A. A., Squair, J. W., Williams, A. M., Walter, M., Lam, T., & Krassioukov, A. V. (2018). Association of epidural stimulation with cardiovascular function in an individual with spinal cord injury. JAMA neurology, 75(5), 630-632.
Aiudi, C. M., Dunn, R. Y., Burns, S. M., Roth, S. A., Opalacz, A., Zhang, Y., … & Ahmed, S. U. (2017). Loss of Efficacy to Spinal Cord Stimulator Therapy: Clinical Evidence and Possible Causes. Pain Physician, 20(7), E1073-E1080.
Falowski, S., Ooi, Y. C., Sabesan, A., & Sharan, A. (2011). Spinal cord injury induced by a cervical spinal cord stimulator. Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface, 14(1), 34-37.
Kemler, M. A., De Vet, H. C., Barendse, G. A., Van den Wildenberg, F. A., & Van Kleef, M. (2008). Effect of spinal cord stimulation for chronic complex regional pain syndrome Type I: five-year final follow-up of patients in a randomized controlled trial. Journal of neurosurgery, 108(2), 292-298.
Jeon, Y. H. (2012). Spinal cord stimulation in pain management: a review. The Korean journal of pain, 25(3), 143.
Block, A. R., Ben-Porath, Y. S., & Marek, R. J. (2013). Psychological risk factors for poor outcome of spine surgery and spinal cord stimulator implant: a review of the literature and their assessment with the MMPI-2-RF. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 27(1), 81-107.
About the Author
Article Author: This law article was written by attorney Ramin Benyamin, Esquire. Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California. His law license number is #277263. He has been practicing law for ten years. Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Mr. Benyamin has helped his clients recover millions of dollars in car accident claims in the State of California.
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