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Amputation Injury

amputation injuryAmputation is a tragic loss of a body part that occurs either in an accident or surgery. Losing a limb can have devastating consequences. Those who suffer an amputation may require medical treatment and prosthetics for the rest of their lives. They may experience psychological distress and major phantom limb pain. They often have to relearn basic life skills such as walking, eating or using the bathroom.

If you have suffered an injury that has required amputation due to someone else's negligent actions, reach out to an experienced amputation injury attorney. By taking legal action, you can get full compensation for your injury. Our experienced legal team can help you hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries. We will work closely with you to access to the essential resources that you need for your recovery, including reconstructive surgery, prosthetic evaluation, and job retraining. Call us today at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.

Amputation Injuries - Causes and Resources

In this article:

About Amputation Injuries and Accidental Amputations

Amputation injuries are very life-changing events. The recovery process can be complicated; however, there are two sides to every coin. If you would like, I can also assist by helping you find the support that you will likely need. On top of relearning everyday activities, the difficulty of amputation injuries is often compounded by medical bills, rehabilitation, purchasing prosthetic limbs, and being out of work temporarily or permanently.

How Do Amputation Injuries Occur?

They often occur in auto accidents, although I have unfortunately seen them everywhere. The most common amputations resulting from someone’s negligence have included:

  • Auto and pedestrian accidents involving a bus, car, truck, motorcycle, SUV, boat, van, or bicycle resulting in a traumatic injury which restricts blood flow to extremities
  • Severe burns and other wounds
  • Industrial, factory, and construction-related work accidents, or falling merchandise which may sever or crush limbs.
  • Poor post-surgery care resulting in gangrene
  • A doctor or medical team not following best practices or responding too slowly to rescue a limb
Damages Recoverable from Amputations

In the state of California, the law provides for “just” compensation for those who are entitled. Many cases may be settled out of court, however, sometimes going to trial is necessary when the negligent party refuses to pay or disagrees with the amount we are seeking. We have heavily experienced trial attorneys. Medical bills, future medical bills such as prosthetics, loss of wages, loss of future income, disfigurement, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and other damages are factors in the damages recoverable from amputations.

Choosing the Right Amputation Attorney

Choosing the right lawyer for your amputation injury is extremely important and directly affects the outcome of your case and the settlement amounts received. There are many accident attorneys in Sacramento representing amputees. Below is a video on choosing the right attorney.

Amputation Resources

Here is more information on amputations:

Amputation FAQ

Who can be held responsible under the law for an amputation?

Any company or individual whose negligence, in whole or part caused this injury, can be held responsible. It could be the driver or owner of a car or truck, it could be a machinery manufacturer whose defective machinery caused the injury, it could be an injury on a construction site. Even if you were partially responsible yourself, California is a comparative negligence state. If a jury finds you were 25 percent responsible and the other party was 75 percent responsible, you will recover 75 percent from the other negligent party. If the jury awards 10 Million for loss of your leg and finds you 25 percent negligent, the 10 million dollar award will be reduced to 7.5 Million. Proving total or partial fault is difficult and often requires hiring biomechanics, engineers and other experts to prove to a jury where the fault lies.

What is the statute of limitations in California on amputation injuries?

Normally, the Statute of Limitations is 2 Years in California. However, the Statute is shorter in cases involving Medical Malpractice, as well as in Cases involving Govt Entity Defendants. The above is the general rule, but there are many exceptions. Please call me anytime for a free consultation.

What are the types of amputation injuries?

Some types are ankle disarticulation, below knee amputation, through-the-knee amputation, hip disarticulation, digital amputation, metacarpal amputation, below and above elbow amputation, elbow disarticulation, and shoulder disarticulation.

What are the long-term implications of amputations?

Retraining, therapy, medical bills, and psychological effects are obvious implications. Other long-term effects, mainly from the use of prosthetics, include muscle strain, arthritis, weight gain, rashes, infection, and swelling.

How long after an amputation can I get a prosthesis?

Many residual limbs are healed enough in a few weeks after surgery to begin measurements and to fit off prosthetic limbs. Essentially this is when the wound is healed, and tissue swelling has subsided. Medical professionals may recommend exercises and rehabilitation to encourage healing.

How will I deal with this?

Preparing for a prosthetic limb may require working through feelings with a therapist, muscle exercises, working with an amputation team to make the process as stress-free as possible, and learning how to tone certain muscles to attain optimal residual limb strength. Learning to use a prosthetic limb effectively does require time, effort, and perseverance. Re-learning routine activities and trying new activities is essential during recovery.

My daughter is 12 years old and recently had a below the knee amputation. She is in middle school and feels like a total outcast and that nobody can understand how she feels. Can you suggest a good source of support?

Yes. There is a wonderful organization that tries to match amputees by gender, age, location and type of amputation. Having someone who has undergone the same difficulties can be tremendously helpful. Call The Amputee Coalition at 888-267-5669 for further information.

What is a traumatic amputation?

A traumatic amputation is an amputation that occurs at the scene of an accident when the limb is partially severed. An example of a traumatic amputation is in an auto accident when removing the limb is necessary for survival. Finally, sometimes traumatic amputations happen when the accident completely severs a limb, for example, when a saw accidentally saws off a limb.

What other rare accidents lead to amputations?

Work-related accidents resulting in amputation also include presses, saws, chainsaws, meat grinders, food slicers, and woodworking machinery. Agricultural accidents resulting in amputation include heavy equipment, mowing equipment, farm equipment, etc. Also, electrical shocks, guns, knives, explosives, fireworks, ruptured ropes and cables, crushed wedding rings, doors, car doors, diabetes, infections, etc.

Who is entitled to sue for an amputation or another catastrophic injury?

If someone else causes you to have an amputation because they are negligent or otherwise responsible for your injury, they can be sued for all damages you sustain as a result. You have the right to recover in California even if you are partially at fault yourself in an accident. California is a comparative fault state. That means if you are 10 percent responsible for an accident, your damages may be reduced by 10 percent, but you can still recover. Any amputation is considered a catastrophic injury. You can find out more about catastrophic personal injuries on my website here. Anyone who is not seriously at fault themselves can sue, as long as they can prove that some other person or entity is more at fault and that their fault has caused this serious injury.

What compensation can I receive for a negligent amputation?

Calculating the damages recoverable in an amputation case can take the time and input of many experts. Past medical bills and any reasonable certain future medical bills are recoverable. Typically, a nurse Lifecare planner assisted by an economist will be the experts necessary to help calculate such damages. They will consult with medical specialists and pharmaceutical experts on the issues involved. Additionally, a vocational rehabilitation expert will be needed to testify as to the loss of your future earning capacity. Pain and suffering damages need to be established by talking to and obtaining a testimony of friends, family, co-workers, and clergy that know you and are familiar with how this serious injury has affected your life. Loss of consortium damages is another element that can be awarded to the spouse of a person suffering an amputation.

Anytime there is an amputation, it is a catastrophic injury and it affects the spouse of the injured person severely. Insurance companies may make a hurried offer to settle once they know their clients are in the wrong and have caused an amputation. Normally, their offer is pennies on the dollar of what might be obtained if an attorney is involved and performs the calculations necessary above with the help of expert witnesses.

I have recently suffered a lower leg amputation and feel emotionally devastated. I have no-one who can understand what I am going through. Is there some book you would recommend to help me?

One book people often find helpful is Alive and Whole: Emotional Recovery after Amputation.  The book was written by a nurse who has worked with amputees for years and who suffered the amputation of her own lower leg in an accident at age 19. You can find a Kindle Version for $2.99.

I am a recent lower limb amputee and am overwhelmed at the costs of a prosthesis and the costs of fitting the same. Is there a good resource for amputee financial assistance?

In handling traumatic amputation cases over the years, I understand how frightening and costly the medical costs associated with an amputation can be. The best resource I have found that deals with financial help is the Amputee Coalition. On this site, you'll find information on sources to help with wheelchairs, prosthetic fittings, and other medical equipment. Generally, the process is to discover what medical equipment you need, get a prescription and then fill out an application.

In this video by High Impact is an example of what kind of settlement you might expect in the event of accidental amputation:

Among the organizations that may help are Medicare, Tricare, the VA, private insurance, Limbs for Life, the National Amputee Foundation and others. This site also is useful if you are wrongfully turned down for government assistance. Additionally, I have found the Amputee Coalition helpful over the years. They can be reached at 888-267-5669.Sacramento Traumatic Injury Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney who has been helping traumatic amputee injured clients since 1982. Call me anytime at 916-921-6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

We are proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Image by Erik Smit from Pixabay

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 10.13.20]

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