Can I Sue For Loss Of Limb?
The amputation of a limb is one of the most stress-inducing events one can experience in a lifetime. Those who have had to experience such trauma have also had to experience unexpected physical challenges and lifestyle alterations that will not only greatly affect them but their loved ones as well.
With nearly two million people living with the loss of a limb in the United States, it is important to understand how one can proceed in recovering for the losses that were caused by their amputation and how to hold a negligent party accountable.
Types of amputations
Traumatic amputation is the loss of a body part that occurs as a result of an accident or injury. Motor vehicle collisions are by far the most common cause of medically necessary traumatic amputations. Other causes include:
- Workplace accidents
- Agricultural accidents
- Firearm/explosives/fireworks accidents (include military casualties)
- Electrocution accidents
- Ring traction accidents
- Building and car door accidents
Workplace injuries in 2015 led to nearly 3,000 amputations according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The manufacturing industry accounted for 57 percent of all amputations.
These catastrophic injuries are the result of the use of machines including power tools, conveyors, forklifts, trash compactors, shaping machines, food slicers, meat grinders and much more. Workers are also exposed to potential amputation hazards when setting up, preparing, adjusting, cleaning, lubricating, maintaining machines and clearing jams.
Medical malpractice amputations
This type of amputation occurs when medical professionals fail to recognize or properly treat infections during hospitalization and cause infections to spread, leaving amputation as the only treatment option. Some infections are acquired before entering the hospital, but all too often, the infection is acquired in a hospital.
Amputations come with a lifetime of expenses
Many people are unaware of the financial burden an amputation puts on victims and their families. According to the American Medical Association, the estimated lifetime cost for an amputee patient ranges from $345,000 to $600,000, depending on the age of the patient and how often the prosthesis is replaced. Factors included in these high-cost figures are:
- Initial hospitalization
- Follow-up hospitalizations
- Inpatient rehabilitation
- Outpatient doctor visits
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Purchase and maintenance of prostheses
Keep in mind other factors such as diminished quality of life and pain and suffering are not included in these figures.
The cost of a new prosthetic (artificial) limb can land anywhere between $5,000 up to $50,000. Even the priciest option is built to withstand only three to five years of wear and tear. Prosthetics are not a one-time expense and will need to be replaced over the course of a lifetime.
Adjustments to the home
When a patient leaves the hospital, they have more challenges to face when they arrive home. Some may have to use a wheelchair to get around. Not only will the wheelchair itself be an added expense, but home renovations may also be a requirement to make ensure wheelchair accessibility. It may also be necessary to install ramps and lifts and widen doors and entryways to allow the wheelchair to get through.
As previously discussed, many amputations are the result of a workplace injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, victims may be unable to work for months or may not ever be able to return to work depending on the physical demands their career entails. Either situation will leave the victim with a loss of income and added stress when it comes to providing for one’s family.
Therapy associated with the loss of limb
Although not all circumstances are the same, most who have suffered the loss of a limb will face a long road of rehabilitation including physical, occupational and psychological therapy. Some examples are learning exercises to strengthen the muscles that are taking over for the missing limb, and exercises to increase balance, coordination and endurance. Some patients will also need to learn how to use walking aids such as wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive devices. Others will require the agonizing task of using a prosthesis by training their mind to consciously execute difficult actions that used to be done unconsciously and effortlessly before their amputation.
Changes to physical capabilities are not the only factors one has to deal with after losing a limb. The drastic life changes that come along with an amputation can greatly affect one’s mental health. The loss of independence is enough for many patients to suffer from depression. There is also a chance that amputee patients suffer from PTSD if the amputation resulted from a traumatic accident.
Pain and suffering
Aside from the pain that is experienced with any severe injury, in many cases of amputation, the patient continues to feel the presence of the missing limb vividly. This is known as “chronic phantom limb pain” and affects two-thirds of patients who have suffered a loss of limb. Chronic phantom limb pain happens when the lack of sensory input from the missing limb confuses the brain and spinal cord and communicates that something is wrong by sending a message of pain. The pain can be mild or extreme and may feel similar to cramped muscles, deep throbbing or a sensation of heat or cold. Chronic phantom limb pain may last anywhere from a few months to an entire lifetime.
Treating phantom limb pain is a challenge that requires trial and error. Patients have been successful with nerve stimulation, physical therapy, biofeedback and pain-relieving drugs.
Seeking guidance from an Amputation Lawyer
If your loss of limb resulted from someone else’s negligence, you have every right to hold them accountable by filing a claim against the at-fault party for damages. In this scenario, negligence occurs when someone causes injury or death to another by failing to act as a reasonable person would act under similar circumstances.
Just like with other personal injury cases, many times the insurance companies will try to offer you an undervalued settlement. This is why consulting with an experienced Amputation Lawyer to ensure the best outcome is critical. A seasoned Amputation Lawyer has both strong legal and medical knowledge to investigate all of the factors and pursue maximum compensation on their client’s behalf.
The damages that are appropriate in each case will depend on the specifics of the amputation injury. Recoverable damages may include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Diminished quality of life
- Physical therapy
- The cost of walking aids
- Pain and suffering
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a limb as a result of someone else’s negligence, The Carlson Law Firm wants to help. We understand the difficult challenges that come along with such trauma, but you don’t have to face them alone. We have a team of compassionate attorneys, on staff nurses and investigators ready to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres