A missing limb can be the result of a birth defect, but in most cases, the loss of a limb is caused by a traumatic event. Each year, many people suffer from amputations in the United States. Besides traumatic events, amputations can be the result of blood vessel diseases, diabetes, and surgeries to remove tumors from bones and muscles. However, most amputations are the result of a devastating event, such as a car accident, motorcycle accident, heavy machinery accident, power tool accident, or even from irresponsible medical care.
The loss of a limb can be extremely distressing for a person, and it takes expert medical care, physical therapy, and counseling for amputees to move forward in life. The challenges of life moving forward from this loss are massive. No one can bring back the lost limb, but medical and counseling bills and loss of income may be covered in certain circumstances. A victim should not have to worry about how they will pay for medical care and other bills after an accident leaves them with an amputated limb. Those who are responsible for the significant loss might have to cover the costs.
What are Common Reasons for Amputations?
When a person has an ongoing and serious disease, amputations can be necessary to increase the patient’s survival. This can be from:
- Cancerous tumors in the bone or muscle of the limb.
- Blood vessel diseases, such as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
- Blood clots.
- Osteomyelitis, which is an infection in the bones.
- Serious infections that do not respond to antibiotics or other treatment.
Amputations that result from medical events are traumatic, but when a devastating accident causes the loss of a limb, victims can be just as traumatized. A sudden and huge loss does not allow the patient enough time to understand what is happening and why.
Some common causes of amputations involve traumatic and sudden events. Car accidents that happen at high speeds or that involve heavier vehicles in particular can cause body parts to be crushed. Some of the reasons for sudden amputations include:
- Motorcycle accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical mistakes
- Work accidents
- Firearms, explosions, and firework accidents
In many cases of workplace injuries and amputations, the damage is due to a power tool or dangerous device at work.
When a person loses a limb due to a medical mistake, they may well lose much more, such as trust in the medical system, and more particularly, in the doctors and nurses who cared for them when this happened.
This does not happen often, but in some unfortunate occasions where a patient is scheduled for an amputation, the hospital staff amputates the wrong limb. A medical mistake like this has an even more dramatic impact on a person’s life. Following the loss of that limb, the victim will still need to undergo surgery for the limb that needed to be amputated in the first place.
There are other medical mistakes that do happen, such as performing a procedure on the wrong patient or on the wrong body part. A massive mistake like this is often attributed to the failure to adhere to hospital protocols. This can be the result of:
- Communication errors.
- Management failures.
- Multiple procedures conducted by multiple surgeons.
- Usage of new or rarely used types of equipment or tools.
- Changing patients’ rooms.
There is a formal process or routine that is designed to verify patient identity, procedure, surgical site identification, and more before the patient is sedated and again before the surgery. This is where all members of the team verify patient identity, site of procedure, and the procedures that need to be done. These important steps should be taken every time, with every patient.
A medical malpractice suit is the end result of a medical error that results in such a traumatic loss. While such incidents are rare, they do happen, and when they do, the victim needs a seasoned, knowledgeable advocate to fight for just compensation.
What are the Costs of Amputations?
Following the emergency medical care, the costs are often astronomical. There are long-term expenses in several areas surrounding an amputation procedure. A few of those anticipated costs for an amputation:
Hospital: Hospital expenses include the costs of care following the emergency.
Rehabilitation: Following surgery, amputees are often moved to receive medical care at rehabilitation centers. The goal is to gradually reintroduce life skills with the loss of a limb.
Prosthesis: This will need to be replaced periodically, more often for a child as they grow. Ill-fitting prostheses can cause chronic pain for the amputee.
Reconstructive Surgery: This is necessary for fitting a prosthesis to an amputated limb with the goal of reducing pain from an ill-fitting prosthesis. Osseointegration, which permanently integrates the prosthesis to bone, may be necessary, particularly if the patient is a child. A growing body will cause the prosthesis to not fit properly.
Therapy: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and emotional counseling will be prescribed and needed for the patient to re-integrate into life with this dramatic change.
Mobility Challenges: While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers and government entities to accommodate those with disabilities, this only addresses one part of the person’s daily life. Getting out the front door of the house will be harder, and it may take more time for amputees than it will for others.
Job Challenges: Losing a limb may mean that the victim has to switch jobs or learn new skills for a completely different field.
Lingering Side Effects: Some amputees experience lingering side effects, including phantom pains and sensations.
What if My Medical Expenses are Not Fully Covered?
When a worker has lost a limb due to a defective or dangerous product at the work site, that victim may want to look into a products liability lawsuit in addition to a Workers’ Compensation claim. A products liability lawsuit is against the manufacturer, retailer, and possibly the installer of the product, device, or tool that malfunctioned and caused the loss of a limb.
In most cases, after an amputation, many of the bills will be covered for the victim as they recuperate. However, in the case of a defective device, a products liability lawsuit will provide further financial compensation to the victim and possibly prevent this type of accident from happening to others.
A car accident victim may also receive compensation from their own or the other driver’s auto insurance. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit to cover the costs of a catastrophic injury may be necessary. An at-fault driver can be assessed punitive damages for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, for recklessness, and for speeding.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Since an amputation causes major life changes for the victim as well as their family, loss of consortium damages may be pursued. Loss of consortium is a part of a personal injury lawsuit, and it is filed by the victim’s spouse to seek compensation for the damage to the couple’s relationship from such a grave loss. The law considers the relationship between husband and wife worthy of legal protections, and loss of consortium seeks compensation for that loss.
For help with determining the best course of action, a victim should speak to a lawyer. Suffering from an amputation is a life-altering event, and a lawyer will be able to guide their client so that they can focus on recovery.
South Jersey Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Provide Legal Help to Amputation Victims
Amputees face many challenges, such as lifestyle and work changes, and costly medical bills. After a traumatic event, an amputee may need a legal advocate to fight for them. The dedicated South Jersey catastrophic injury lawyers at DiTomaso Law help those suffering from severe injuries. Call us at 856-414-0010 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.