An amputation involves the removal of or part of a limb: An arm, hand, finger, leg, foot, or toe. Today there are nearly two million Americans who have had a limb amputated. Of course, some of these amputations occurred due to disease or military combat. Only when the amputation is the result of an accident or medical negligence is a lawsuit possible. However, in some cases, a responsible party cannot be identified. For example, if an amputation occurred due to a natural disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane.
Some people involved in the Boston Marathon bombings lost their legs as a result. Unfortunately, the surviving terrorist barely has the funds to take care of the medical expenses of the wounded. Lawyers are still scrambling to determine other possible liable parties in the lawsuits, but it’s not that easy. Pros, for those people who were injured, donations have been raised to help at least with their medical costs.
Most amputation-related lawsuits are due to injuries sustained in car accidents and construction accidents. If an accident involves the amputation of a limb, surgery is still required to cauterize the wounds, remove any remaining dead tissue, and try to preserve as much tissue as possible. Sometimes if a limb is recovered, it can be reattached. Beyond the costs of surgery and the post-surgical hospital stay (which is two weeks on average), are the costs of prosthetics/artificial limbs. Those limbs should be installed after the initial wounds have healed. In some cases, amputations require a series of surgeries.
A prosthesis is often custom made for the patient, usually from an impression cast. This is especially true in the case of a partial amputation of the finger, since the prosthesis is made of silicone rubber so that it can maintain some flexibility for movement. The silicone adapts to the individual’s skin tone and gives a natural looking skin texture. The nails are even carefully matched. These dentures only last three to five years, so a legal claim must take into account the need to have a new denture every few years.
After the prosthesis, physical therapy should be started to learn how to move correctly with the new limbs. Psychiatric treatment is also often necessary to deal with the emotional repercussions of a catastrophic injury. In other words, the medical costs are astronomical and long-term.
When the loss of a limb affects a person’s ability to care for themselves, long-term home care is also needed. A simple loss of a thumb can prevent a person from performing simple tasks that we take for granted on a daily basis, such as buttoning a shirt or heating a can of soup on the stove. Of course, this loss of function also means permanent disability and loss of future income. A vocational can sometimes help assess the injured party and determine what type of work, if any, he or she could perform.
Certain law firms specialize in these types of lawsuits. They understand the nuances and details involved in these cases, both from a medical and legal perspective. They also have a law firm of experts and medical professionals available to assist in the care of the injured party and serve as expert witnesses to support the claims of the lawsuit.
These experts often include a life plan professional who can presenta a program to present to attorneys for the defendant (the responsible party) or for the court if the case proceeds to trial. These experts evaluate the situation of the injured person and determine the long-term maintenance costs in terms of medical and rehabilitation, home care, job loss, psychological support, etc.
Types of Amputation Lawsuits
Amputations most often occur when industrial equipment fails in some way or when the equipment is not used correctly. Power saws are a common culprit. Crush injuries also often lead to amputations, such as during a vehicle accident or when a large piece of equipment falls on someone. When such an injury occurs on the job, it is called worker’s compensation or worker’s compensation. When an amputation injury occurs while you are not at work it is called a personal injury case, unless it occurred as a result of medical negligence.
a, in which case it is called a medical malpractice case. These cases can occur if, for example, someone is left waiting in the emergency room for too long without care. The bacteria can attack and kill tissue, necessitating the amputation of a limb.
In workers’ compensation cases, insurance kicks in to pay for some of the medical expenses, but there is a limit to how much can be paid. Catastrophic injuries, such as lifelong amputations, often require more money than workers’ compensation insurance can provide. A separate personal injury lawsuit could be filed. In some cases, if the amputation injury was caused by faulty or malfunctioning machinery, the case might be referred to as product liability. The responsible party would be the manufacturer of the machinery or the part within the machinery that caused the malfunction.
Responsibility is not always clear and concise. For this reason, these cases may end up in court instead of being resolved out of court with the defendant’s insurance company. For example, when a young man at a party cut his finger, he sued the parents of the teens who held the party, alleging that the parents failed to adequately supervise the event.
In a product liability case, where liability is clearer, a woman lost both legs in a car accident allegedly as a result of a faulty ignition switch. The lawsuit was filed against General Motors, which recalled cars containing the faulty switch only after the woman’s accident.
One example of a medical malpractice case involved a man who sued his podiatrist after he had to amputate his finger following the podiatrist’s care for cellulite. When the man went to the emergency room, he was diagnosed with gangrene and had to lose his toe. He sought $100,000 in medical bills from the podiatrist’s malpractice insurance.