Injuries that medically warrant amputation can be amongst the most catastrophic, traumatic, and debilitating injuries that one can suffer. The total (or even partial) removal of a limb, appendage, or extremity can greatly weigh down your quality of life.
From physical pain, to emotional duress, to an inability to perform the work you used to, even the loss of one limb or appendage has the potential to permeate through multiple facets of your life. According to the Amputee Coalition, over two million Americans live with one or more lost limbs, and over 185,000 amputation procedures occur each year.
Some sources widely estimate that as many as one in 200 Americans could go on to live with an amputation in their lifetime! Amputations can be caused by freak accidents or medical conditions, but far too often, they’re caused by preventable instances of negligence that could (and should) have been avoided.
Even one amputation can carry immense financial, physical, and psychological costs with it. If careless negligence or malpractice led to an amputation, for yourself or a loved one, compensation and accountability will be crucial parts of the recovery process. You deserve all the support you can get through your healing, and an experienced Maryland amputation injury lawyer can help you obtain much-needed support, coupled with much-needed justice.
Causes Of Injuries That Warrant Amputation
Johns Hopkins Medicine classifies amputations as two categories: surgical or traumatic. A traumatic amputation injury may have removed the limb or appendage partly, or in its totality. If the injury still leaves behind damaged tissue, further medical and surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the damaged tissue.
Traumatic injuries are by far the leading cause of upper body amputation, accounting for as many as 75 percent of them according to Stanford Medicine. Upper extremities that could risk facing amputation in these kinds of traumatic injuries include your arms, hands, fingers, and ears. These debilitating traumatic injuries are often caused by:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Construction hazards
- Workplace hazards
- Misuse of heavy machinery
- Electrocution injuries
- Agricultural hazards
It only takes a few seconds and a little bit of someone else’s negligence for one of these hazards to drastically alter the remainder of your life. In a workplace context, the riskiest business(es) will obviously be industries that require very physically demanding work, and intensive use of heavy machinery. Construction work, industrial factory work, and work in large scale agricultural settings all risk the potential for traumatic amputation injuries, if:
- The appropriate safety precautions aren’t taken
- A coworker neglects to turn off a machine current
- Negligent supervision contributes to an unsafe workplace
- One neglects to operate industrial machinery properly
Negligent machinery operation is one of the most common causes of these traumatic amputation injuries. According to data released a few years back by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinery use was involved in more than half (or 58%) of all work related amputation injuries in 2018.
Off the job, traumatic amputations could be caused by bad motor vehicle collisions, deliberate acts of violence, or an unsafe, hazardous premises. Even the high voltage electric shocks produced by faulty utility poles could potentially lead to loss of a limb. But on or off the clock, and on or off the road, the road to recovery from a traumatic, negligence-based amputation injury is a long and hard one.
After the Amputation
Following surgical intervention, the wound where the amputated appendage was may require extensive skin grafts, stitches, staples, and bandaging to heal properly. The amputee patient may initially struggle with phantom limb pain, a perceived sense of discomfort in the part of the limb that’s no longer there. After surgery, they often need to undergo months of intensive physical therapy to adjust to living without the missing limb.
Even if a prosthetic is able to be utilized, the stump where the amputation was made will typically require lifelong self-care to stay healthy and clean. Prosthesis or no prosthesis, the patient will also (most likely) require lifelong healthcare to cope with the enormous physical and psychological trauma of their injury.
Personal Injury vs. Medical Malpractice
An amputation resulting from someone else’s negligence can be greatly traumatic and costly in more ways than one. One widely-cited figure published by JB&JS pegs the average lifetime cost of a single amputation at just over half a million, or $509,275.
We would be remiss to gloss over the exorbitant emotional and physical costs after such a traumatic ordeal as well; the Industrial Psychiatry Journal estimates that 32 to 84% of patients face mental health struggles following amputation.
An experienced amputation injury lawyer can help guide you on the next steps toward seeking accountability and covering these enormous costs. Commonly, the first step in this process will be proving liability; who is liable, and in what way are they liable?
If your traumatic amputation occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence outside of a healthcare setting, then that would most likely constitute a personal injury claim. If the traumatic injury occurred as a result of hazardous conditions, like an unsafe work environment or an improperly-maintained utility pole, then that would most likely constitute a premises liability claim.
This could expand the scope of negligence and liability to the company or person(s) responsible for maintaining safe premises, and failing to meet that responsibility or duty of care. Another situation where the liability could extend to a company is in cases of product liability, where a faulty product (as opposed to someone’s direct negligence) contributed to or led to your traumatic amputation injury.
If the negligence that led to your amputation occurred in a hospital or healthcare setting, then that would most likely constitute medical malpractice. Typically, three forms of medical malpractice can lead to amputation:
- Surgical Error: A negligent surgeon botched an operation to the extent that it necessitated a limb or appendage removal.
- Neglect of Care: For example, if a doctor neglects to adequately care for a bedridden patient who’s suffering from bedsores, those bedsores could lead to subsequent infection, which could subsequently lead to amputation.
- Failure to Diagnose: If a healthcare provider fails to timely diagnose an illness or medical condition that led to more severe infection, in turn leading to the amputation, then that could constitute medical malpractice.
It will be important for you and your attorney to determine the most relevant type of liability in your case. State and federal laws, as well as different practice areas, can all greatly differ in terms of:
- The documentation required to prove fault, the scope of liability, and damages
- The affidavits (PI cases usually don’t require them, malpractice cases usually do)
- The difficulty for the plaintiff to prove negligence against the defendants
- The statutes of limitations to file your claim against the liable party or defendant
- The expert witnesses who will be needed to support and strengthen your case
- The overall complexity of your cases, and the specific matters in contention
In any case, the injury lawsuit process is complex and overwhelming for any one person to navigate on their own, especially in the wake of such a profoundly devastating and traumatic experience. You’ll most likely want the support of experienced professionals who know how to navigate these nuanced complexities, and effectively fight on your behalf for the compensation you deserve.
Damages: Personal Injury Settlement Examples
As they would with any other negligence-based claim involving personal injury, an experienced amputation injury attorney will want to seek compensation for a plethora of damages, economic and non-economic. In an injury case involving a preventable, traumatic amputation, these damages will commonly encompass:
- A diminished quality of life
- Healthcare expenditures and bills
- Loss of present and future income
- Disability benefits and accommodations
- Physical and psychological therapies
- Prosthetic and mobility aid expenses
- Loss of consortium and connection
- Pain, suffering, and emotional anguish
A lawyer versed in amputation cases will understand the evidence sufficient to constitute these damages. Settlement offers in winning amputation cases can exceed millions of dollars, but a good attorney will see more than just dollar signs. They will understand how to appeal to the jury or insurance adjuster’s compassion and effectively argue for non-economic damages too.
A good advocate will exercise compassion and appreciation for the life-changing enormity of your traumatic injury. They won’t just build a case based on present concerns, but future medical needs as well. Your injury attorney should be able to exercise compassion and understanding for the tough challenges in front of you, especially if it’s a malpractice or premises liability case against an entire institution.
Enlisting an experienced attorney won’t guarantee that you’ll win your amputation lawsuit case, but it should afford you your best fighting chance.
Consider a Maryland Amputation Injury Attorney from Ketterer, Browne, & Associates, LLC
This post is informational. Nonetheless, Maryland amputation injury lawyers, such as those at KBA Attorneys, have decades of experience navigating the many intricacies of personal injury claims and how they affect every aspect of your life.
To learn more about our team and see how we can guide you, contact our office today.