Roughly two million Americans live with a loss of limb or body part. Amputation injuries that result from accidents can drastically change your life, as well as affect your mental, emotional, and financial health.
If you were injured in an accident that could have been avoided, then you may have cause for filing a personal injury lawsuit. A qualified amputation injury lawyer can assess your case and determine if you’re owed compensation for medical costs, lost wages, overall pain and suffering, and more.
Defining Amputation Or Loss Of Limb
Amputation is defined as complete or partial removal of an upper or lower extremity or body part.
Extremities that may be severed from the body in an injury or accident include:
A traumatic amputation occurs when the loss of one of these body parts results from an accident. Recovering from an amputation or loss of limb can be difficult and painful. Anger, frustration, and hopelessness are common emotions after succumbing to one of these injuries.
A complete amputation occurs when a particular body part is completely severed from the body. In these accidents, the severed body part can sometimes be reattached. After a complete amputation injury, proper care must be administered to the severed part or stump, which is called the residual limb.
With partial amputation, there is some soft-tissue connection that remains attached between the limb and the body. Although soft tissue remains, these types of amputation injuries can be just as difficult to reattach.
Common Causes Of Traumatic Amputation Injuries
An accident that causes an amputation injury can occur under a variety of circumstances. Over 70 percent of traumatic amputation injuries affect upper extremities like arms or hands.
Some examples of what causes amputation injuries include:
- motor vehicle accidents
- heavy machinery accidents
- military combat
- farm motor vehicle accidents
- natural disasters
- terrorist attacks
- power tool accidents
- accidents at the workplace
Workplace Amputation Injuries
Amputation injuries may also result from workplace accidents. Workplace amputation injuries are widespread and can involve equipment or any number of activities.
These injuries are most common when workers are unprotected or not properly guarded from hazardous equipment like:
- printing presses
- roll-forming or roll-bending machines
- power press brakes
- mechanical power presses
- drill presses
- milling machines
- powered and non-powered conveyors
- meat grinders
- food slicers
- meat-cutting band saws
Workplace amputation injuries can also occur from forklifts, doors, trash compactors, and hand tools. A worker could also get injured while setting up, cleaning, preparing, adjusting, or maintaining stationary machines.
Amputation Injury Medical Costs And Treatment
Treating an amputation injury involves reconstruction or the use of prosthetics. Treatment costs can add up quickly because of the comprehensive care these injuries require.
After suffering a traumatic amputation injury, a patient is likely to:
- be hospitalized
- receive acute care for a limb injury
- attend inpatient rehabilitation
- attend outpatient doctor visits
- receive physical and occupational therapy
- purchase a prosthetic device
- receive psychological/social support or therapy
Treating an amputation injury is a lengthy and ongoing process. One study examined the financial medical costs of an amputation over the course of someone’s lifetime. The authors found that a victim of amputation could spend over $500,000 in medical care throughout their life.
Possible Complications From Amputation Injuries
One reason medical costs can soar after an amputation injury is because of the possible health complications that may occur after an accident.
Besides the prolonged emotional and psychological effects of suffering the injury, other health complications may include:
- muscle shortening
- excessive bleeding
- blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
Some people may also experience phantom pain, or the sensation of feeling pain in the limb or extremity that was severed from the body. A patient could also suffer from skin problems from using a prosthetic, or experience other complications during surgery.
Liability For Amputation Injuries
Liability for an amputation injury will depend on the nature of the accident. If you were injured at work, then you may have to file for worker’s compensation in some states. However, you may have additional options to collect damages. Your best bet is to consult with a lawyer if you were injured at work.
If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you could be awarded damages to help cover the cost of medical care and other issues. Negligence is generally defined as a failure to act with reasonable care.
Depending on what happened, you could sue a defendant for negligence if your injury resulted from a motor vehicle accident where someone else was at fault.
You could also hold manufacturers responsible and file a product liability lawsuit if your injury resulted from using a machine. In some cases, your injury could have been prevented if the machine’s design was safer or properly labeled with warnings.
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How A Lawyer Can Help After An Amputation Injury
After you receive treatment for an amputation, you can start to consider liability and whether you should proceed with legal action. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you after an accident in many ways, from gathering evidence to negotiating a fair settlement.
If you suffered a traumatic amputation injury, you likely won’t have the time or energy to collect evidence from the scene of the accident. However, collecting evidence like Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reports, police reports, or other documents that detail the extent of your injuries can help your case.
A lawyer has the resources to gather all the evidence from the scene. If you did collect evidence, then a lawyer can follow up, like making sure all witnesses were interviewed. A lawyer can also enlist experts to diagram the accident or investigators to dig deeper if necessary.
Analyze Medical Expenses
Because amputation injuries involve in-depth medical care, a lawyer can be of major assistance for determining your past, current, and future medical expenses. Figuring out the overall cost of your expenses can help your legal team determine how much money will be needed to cover your base expenses, as well as additional future costs that may add up over time.
Recover Economic Or Non-Economic Losses
A lawyer can help you recover compensation or damages for both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses include medical costs, lost wages from an incapacity to work, prosthetic limbs, physical rehabilitation, and other fees or expenses related to your injury.
Non-economic losses generally include pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of the enjoyment of life that you may experience after losing a limb in a preventable or avoidable accident. A qualified personal injury lawyer can help determine how much compensation you should be awarded based on your case.
Negotiate A Fair Settlement
A personal injury lawyer will likely have years of experience at the negotiating table. They will be able to work with defendants, insurance companies, and other parties responsible for paying out a fair settlement to compensate you for your injury.
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A traumatic amputation injury can have devastating consequences on your life. The victim will likely have to relearn basic life skills like eating or going to the bathroom. The last thing you need to worry about is paying for medical care and other expenses related to your injury.
Our law firm has years of experience handling personal injury claims, including amputation claims. We have experience in workplace-related accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and other accidents that have resulted in amputation or severe injury.
To help you decide if you should move forward with your case, we offer a free case evaluation. Once you submit a case evaluation, we’ll get back to you with your options. To start your free case evaluation, or to learn more about amputation lawsuits, please contact us today.