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Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, LLP

Public safety employees and SCIs

California owes a lot to its public safety employees, whether referring to firefighters, law enforcement or other workers in the public sector. Their jobs come with an increased risk to keep people safe.

This risk includes spinal cord injuries (SCIs) and, depending on the severity, may prove to be a cost so high that it puts these public servants out of commission for weeks, months or the rest of their lives.

SCI causes and financial costs

As the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports, the bulk of SCIs occur from vehicular crashes, falls and violence. These three sources represent over 84% of SCIs and are sources that many public safety employees may face on the job.

Not including lost wages or productivity, the average yearly expense may vary drastically for an SCI that causes motor function loss at any level. Estimates put first-year costs for this type of SCI at around $375,196. Subsequent years still cost around $45,572.

Worse injuries like high tetraplegia may cost over $1.14 million in the first year.

SCIs and depression

Depression is a medical disorder that may affect anyone. The everyday stress of public safety employees combined with an unexpected SCI may exacerbate that risk. According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, while 5% of Americans experience depression each year, one in five people suffering SCIs experience it.

Suffering an SCI as a result of public duty is a tragedy, no matter how an employee received one. There are workers’ compensation options and resources in California for any public safety employee to access when tackling the various costs of an SCI.