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Lais Souza’s Ski Accident is a Reminder to All Olympic Athletes that Disability Insurance is a Financial Lifeline

Lais Souza, Brazilian gymnast turned freestyle skier, was injured after a training accident in Salt Lake City. She has suffered severe damage to her spine leaving her without movement in her arms or legs. The 25 year old previously helped her team qualify and compete in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. Souza is currently awake and aware of her surroundings but is breathing with the help of a ventilator in the intensive care unit at the University of Utah Hospital. Souza was skiing with her Canadian coach Ryan Snow at Park City and it is known she was wearing a helmet at the time of injury. (AP, ABC Local, Brazilian skier Lais Souza seriously injured ahead of Sochi Games, January 30, 2014)

Team Brazil doctor Antonio Marttos was quoted saying in a statement: “Lais has a long recovery process in front of her. A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.” (Yahoo Sports. Doctors: Brazilian skier unable to move arms, legs, January 29, 2014)

While head and spinal injuries only account for very few skiing injuries, they can be extremely traumatic.

“Injuries are just a part of life in professional sports, as it is with any physical activity where you push your body to its limits. Souza’s injury is a devastating blow to an Olympic career and has life-changing consequences. The Winter Olympics are a treacherous time and we often see knee injuries, concussions, and spine injuries along with bruises and lacerations. After watching the 2010 Winter Olympics I hope all Olympic athletes took the opportunity to prepare their disability insurance policies to reflect the injury trends,” advises Frank N. Darras, disability lawyer to the pros.

Disability insurance covers a lot of the usual day-to-day bills; the benefits can also help cover the medical costs incurred during an incident such as this. Medical care costs skyrocket with severe injuries like those associated with head and spine trauma due to the extended hospital stays and complex surgeries.

If Souza has disability insurance, it should provide her with an income comparable to what she would have received if she were still skiing. Freestyle skiing can be very dangerous and unpredictable. The freestyle world saw tragedy in 2012 after half-pipe pioneer Sarah Burke died after sustaining an injury during a training session. (Yahoo Sports, Athletes in new sports give thanks to Sarah Burke, January 27, 2014)

“In the event of such a tragic injury, pro athletes should have disability policies in place before they even start training,” says Darras. “Athletes should review all their options with a top disability insurance specialist. Due to the nature of their career, if a professional athlete is injured, that career could be over. There are many experts out there who are more than willing to help draw up a disability insurance policy to protect an Olympic athlete and their income.”

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