If you've been hurt in an accident, the cost of treatment can vary widely depending on how injured you are. Unfortunately, medical costs are non-negotiable. If you are hurt enough to require surgery, you won't be able to negotiate with the doctor for a better deal, but neither can you forgo essential procedures.
This article will cover the most common injuries after a car accident that require surgery, how much they typically cost, and what is covered by insurance.
What's the Average Cost of Surgery?
The true amount of any surgery will vary depending on the specific circumstances and the hospital performing the operation. However, by looking at data we can estimate the average cost of certain procedures. Additionally, if you have health insurance, the amount you will pay out of pocket might be less than these stated numbers - that depends on your health insurance and your deductible.
Concussions and TBI
This is one of the most common injuries associated with car accidents. Concussions happen when the brain shakes violently inside of the skull upon impact, or when the head suffers a heavy blow during the collision, such as hitting the steering wheel, airbag, headrest, window, or windshield.
Very rarely do concussions require surgery. However, in some instances concussions occur in combination with traumatic brain injuries, and surgery is needed. The cost of brain surgery can range from $85,000 to $2,000,000. These costs are for the surgeries themselves, not including hospital stays, drugs, etc. The long term cost of care for auto accident victims suffering brain damage ranges from $500,000 to $1,800,000 and up.
Back injuries are very common in car accidents. Because of the body's twisting, turning, bending, puncturing, and impact during a car accident, a victim may suffer very serious back injuries.
Here is a quick list of the five most common surgical procedures for injured backs and their average pricetag:
- Lumbar spinal fusion: $30,000
- Cervical fusion: $18,000
- Decompression surgery: $24,000
- Anterior cervical fusion: $40,000
- Lumbar laminectomy: $15,000
Similar to concussions and TBI, victims who have back injuries sometimes need additional care after their surgeries, including rehabilitation, therapy sessions and chiropractic care, which would add additional costs.
Surgery is not always required to heal broken bones. However, in serious cases surgery might be needed to set the broken bone back into place. The cost of these surgeries depends on the bone being operated on and the number of breaks. For example, the cost to surgically repair a single leg fracture can be around $16,000, but a complicated fracture with multiple broken bones can exceed $35,000.
Neck injuries are also common in car wrecks due to the whiplash many people experience upon impact. As with the other injuries mentioned, not all neck injuries require surgery. However, if the neck injury is due to something serious, such as a slipped vertebra, surgery will be required. Costs range from $80,000 and $150,000. Similarly, surgeries treated to repair spinal stenosis can range between $50,000 and $90,000.
In addition to the cost of surgery, here is a list of additional costs that should be factored into the overall bill:
- Use of the hospital’s operation room
- Circulating nurse fees
- Scrub nurse fees
- Medications used during surgery (including anesthesia)
- Operation room cleaning fees
- Hospital administration overhead
- Use of surgical instruments and cleaning/sterilization
- Disposable equipment used during surgery (surgical masks, drapes, wires, IV tubing, gauze, etc.)
Who Pays for Surgery After a Car Accident?
If the Accident Was Your Fault
If you caused the accident - say, you rear-ended someone - then you will use your own health insurance to cover the cost of your medical bills.
If the Accident Was Not Your Fault
If someone else caused the car accident, you will file a claim through their auto insurance policy. They are responsible for paying your medical bills. However, you won't get the money until after your claim has settled, so you will need to use your own health insurance in the meantime.
If the Accident Was Not Your Fault But You Don't Have Health Insurance
If someone else caused your car accident and you're waiting for the case to settle, but you don't have health insurance to use in the meantime, then it's a good idea to hire a personal injury attorney. An attorney can use a letter of protection to get you the healthcare you need while you're waiting for your case to settle.
If the Accident Was Not Your Fault But There Isn't Enough Insurance Available
Sometimes, another driver hits you but they don't have insurance. Or, say they hit you but they only have the minimum insurance limits, which is $30,000 in the state of Texas. If you require surgery, your medical bills will likely exceed $30,000. So who pays for the rest?
In these cases, it's best to consult with a personal injury attorney. They know how to discover all form of available insurance and help get you covered.