Serious accidents or medical negligence can sometimes lead to the loss of a limb. The consequences can be devastating but you may be able to make a claim to compensate for your loss.
What are the different types of amputation?
An amputation is the surgical removal of a part of the body, for example, an arm or a leg. There are, however, different kinds of amputations.
Surgical amputations are typically classified into two categories: lower limb and upper limb amputations. Of the lower limb amputations, there are a further two broad categories: minor and major amputations. Minor surgical amputations tend to refer to the removal of digits (toes).
Major surgical amputations are commonly below the knee or above the knee amputations:
- Transitibial amputations
Transtibial amputations, are below the knee amputations. This involves removing the foot, ankle joint, distal tibia, fibula, and corresponding bone structures. This is the most common type of amputation. With the knee joint spared, walking with a prosthesis is typically more successful.
- Transfemoral amputations
Transfemoral amputations are amputations which involve removing the leg from the body at the knee or above, by cutting through both thigh tissue and femoral bone.Upper limb amputations are understood as the removal of any part of the upper extremity. ‘Standard’ level amputations include the removal of any part of the forearm, hand or digits (fingers). A ‘major’ limb amputation is generally considered to be any amputation above the wrist.Traumatic amputations happen as a result of an accident or injury where immediate separation of the limb occurs.
Can you claim compensation for an amputation?
It is possible to make a compensation claim for the loss of limb or amputation that has happened as a result of an injury that wasn’t your fault, for example, an injury at work, a car crash, as a result of medical negligence, or any other type of incident that can sometimes sadly lead to the loss of a limb.
Between 2015 and 2018, 27,465 amputations were performed in England, with causes ranging from medical issues and negligence to personal injury and workplace accidents. It may be possible to make a claim as a result of the following:
- Negligent medical treatment
Amputation claims arising from negligent medical treatment may arise from failure to recognise, diagnose or treat a condition appropriately or from a surgical error. There are many examples of amputations that can occur as a result of misdiagnosis, failure to treat or surgical error. Some examples are as follows:
- A failure to properly manage and monitor a PICCO catheter can lead to gangrene which if untreated can result in an amputation.
- A failure to diagnose and treat meningitis on time can lead to septicaemia which damages blood vessels. If untreated, blood clots can develop in the bloodstream and cause tissue to die.
- A failure to properly treat diabetes. Diabetes, if not properly managed, can also result in a reduction of blood supply to the body’s extremities which can lead to amputation.
- Road traffic accidents
Road traffic accidents can cause serious injury and it may be possible to claim compensation for an amputation. You may be a passenger, cyclist, pedestrian, motorcyclist, pillion passenger or driver. Both surgical and traumatic amputations may arise from road traffic accidents.
- Workplace accidents
If you have sustained an injury in an accident at work resulting in an amputation, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Much like road traffic accidents, amputations arising from workplace accidents may be both surgical and traumatic. Common accidents that happen at work can include, crush injuries from machinery, falls from a height, falling objects or accidents involving a vehicle.
How much can I claim for amputation compensation?
Amputations can be life-changing. The amount of compensation will depend on what limbs are lost, the severity of the injuries and prognosis, and the effect on your life. You may not be able to return to work for a while or at all. You may have to train to do a different type of job depending on the extent of your injury.
You can also claim for expenses such as:
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of pension
- Medical treatment
- Travel costs
- The cost of home adaptations or moving to suitable accommodation
- Psychological therapy
- The cost of care either from professionals or family members
- Specialist equipment
- Prosthetic limbs and prosthetic rehabilitation
We are often able to able to obtain interim payments for our clients before the final settlement of the claim. We are frequently able to arrange rehabilitation programmes to help our clients to recover as much as they are able to and improve the quality of their lives as soon as possible.
Find out more
Find out more by visiting our Medical Mondays hub, designed to provide up-to-date information on the different injuries, accidents, and claims that are commonly encountered by our team.
Holly Crowder, paralegal in our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team, contributed to this article.