There’s not much more shocking than being involved in an accident where an amputation occurs. The loss of an arm, leg, or anything in-between can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and wreak havoc on their mental well-being. Amputation injuries can be not only life-threatening, but are also devastating in terms of both the emotional and financial costs to victims and their families.
If you or someone you know has recently experienced an amputation injury, contact The Sevey Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our highly-skilled attorneys know the many issues surrounding amputation cases and understand how to negotiate with employers and insurance agencies on your behalf.
You can reach our offices at (916) 788-7100 during business hours or contact our 24-hour emergency hotline at (916) 217-5588 to get help immediately. We’re here to assist anytime you need us.
There are numerous ways that an amputation can occur. Some are brought on by natural causes like diabetes, cancer or other medical illnesses, while others are due to traumatic accidents resulting from the negligence of others.
Common examples include:
- Car, Truck, Motorcycle, Pedestrian or Bicycle accidents
- Industrial or Agricultural accidents (falling objects, sharp tools, defective equipment, etc.)
- Exposure to toxic chemicals, severe burns or electrical shocks
- Medical malpractice (botched surgeries, complications, improper care)
- Violent crimes (shootings, stabbings or other physical abuse)
In fact, according to recent statistics from the amputee coalition, over 185,000 people experience amputation injuries each year. While the majority of these surgeries are performed as a last resort to save someone’s life, the aftermath is still devastating for everyone involved.
There are two main classifications for amputation-related surgeries: Traumatic and Surgical. Although they both involve the removal of a limb, extremity or other body parts, the two procedures (and results afterward) can be extremely different.
Traumatic amputations are unplanned surgeries required when victims have experienced sudden, unforeseen accidents. Time is of the essence as these patients can quickly “bleed out” or go into shock as a result of their injuries.
In most cases, the surgeon’s main objective is to do whatever is necessary to save a person’s life. This means follow-up surgeries may be required afterward to complete the procedure or improve cosmetic appearances.
Many patients recover well and learn to adjust to their new way of life, while others have trouble coping with such a traumatic event and never seem to fully accept their new normal.
Surgical amputations are very different in that the patient is normally aware of what is to come before it happens. These surgeries are planned in advance and are in response to a deteriorating medical condition that cannot be resolved otherwise.
While medical staff have more time to prepare for the surgery, these procedures are still dangerous nonetheless. Complications, medical errors and improper care can lead to a host of other problems.
The amputations themselves are also divided into two main categories: Upper Limb and Lower Limb. As you can imagine, upper limb includes most anything above the waist (fingers, hands, arms, elbows or shoulders). Lower limb means amputations that are performed below the torso (toes, feet, legs, ankles, hips or the pelvis).
The Effects of an Amputation
Besides the obvious physical changes, amputees often suffer damages in a number of other equally traumatic ways. Many patients experience psychological problems that have lasting effects and require in-depth counseling and assistance.
Amputees sometimes report symptoms closely aligned with those of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Nightmares, insomnia, bouts of rage and depression are not uncommon.
Others have trouble with self-confidence or body image issues. Losing a limb or body part can significantly impact a patient’s outlook on life. Not to mention the social withdrawal that comes from no longer being able to enjoy some of their previous favorite activities.
Physical illnesses may develop also. Without excellent hygiene, amputees are prone to developing rashes or secondary infections – especially with the extensive use of prosthetics. Because of the added physical strain on the body, amputees are also prone to fatigue and weight gain issues.
Some victims also complain of what’s commonly referred to as “stump pain.” This is a condition where nerve endings in the amputation area don’t properly heal and cause rogue or phantom discomfort without warning. In many cases, stump pain resolves itself over time. However, in certain situations, the condition gets worse and may cause constant anguish for the victim.
Treatments & Costs Associated With Amputations
Medical companies are continually improving the devices available to assist amputee victims. From high-tech wheelchairs and lifts to ultra-light, form-fitting prosthetics – each helps to make life a little easier. However, most other treatments are of a conventional nature and have been around for decades. Things like:
Pain Medication – to combat the unpredictable aches, pains, and soreness that often arise
Physical Therapy – retraining the body how to move again after an amputation
Occupational Therapy – teaches patients how to perform everyday activities again (dressing, bathing, eating, etc.) as efficiently as possible
Psychological Therapy – to try and come to grips with their experience
It’s not hard to imagine that many of these services can be expensive and are not always fully covered by insurance. According to data from John Hopkins researchers, the lifetime costs to care for an amputee can easily exceed $500,000 or more.
Initial insurance company settlements often come nowhere close to this figure and may leave victims scrambling to make ends meet. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced personal injury law firm in cases like these.
Evaluating the entire cost of treatment, and requesting compensation for pain, suffering, and quality of life issues, is the only way to provide a proper settlement for victims and their families.
Types of Compensation Available After An Amputation
While immediate medical expenses are the first thing that comes to mind in amputee compensation claims, there’s much more to be considered. Some of the largest and most damaging costs often happen after the accident has taken place.
Pain and Suffering – Very few (if any) victims are able to live completely pain-free after their experience. Soreness, swelling and “ghost” discomfort tend to follow patients for years after an accident has occurred.
Ongoing Medical Expenses – The initial surgery itself may be the most expensive part of an accident. However, the cost for periodic check-ups, secondary illnesses or prosthetic devices can add up as well.
Lost Wages and Future Earnings – A large majority of amputees are unable to return to work in their full capacity for quite some time (if ever). Moreover, those placed in alternative positions often take considerable pay cuts in their new roles.
Emotional Distress – The ability to fully come to terms with one’s injuries is frequently a long and difficult road to travel.
Quality of Life – Missing out of previous activities with family and friends (sports, traveling, social life, etc.) can be devastating to many victims.
Consortium – Loss of companionship and/or marital relations is also entitled to compensation.
It’s important to explore your legal options after an accident or injury, as California has a Comparative Fault judicial system. This means that even if the plaintiff shares part of the blame for the incident, they can still recover damages for their losses.
Choosing an Amputation Injury Attorney
Selecting the right attorney to assist with your case is incredibly important. Litigation surrounding amputation surgeries is complex and requires specialized resources and a keen understanding of the law. You need experts in your corner to ensure you get the highest possible compensation you’re entitled to.
The professionals at The Sevey Law Firm have been helping injury victims in Northern California for more than a decade. We understand the suffering and helpless feeling many victims and their families face. That’s why we work tirelessly to protect our client’s rights and fight for justice on their behalf.
If you need help with your injury, contact us today at (916) 788-7100 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. There’s never a fee to speak to us, and we won’t charge you a dime unless we can win your case.