A loss-of-limb injury usually means that a limb has been severed from the body due to accidental circumstances. An amputation can be a loss-of-limb injury, but the term amputation also covers surgical limb removal, as well as the removal of appendages such as fingers and toes.
Somewhat more than half of all amputations in Indiana are due to disease, such as diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and cancer. However, 45 percent of loss-of-limb injuries in our state occur because of trauma, with pediatric amputations most commonly caused by lawn mower accidents. It’s estimated that roughly 30,000 traumatic amputations take place each year in the U.S. Approximately 2 million persons are currently living with limb loss in our country; the number is expected to reach 4 million by 2050.
Amputations and loss of limbs require major changes in the accident victim’s life. Such changes are not only physical, requiring prosthetics and therapies of several types, but also include mental and emotional issues, because a person with an amputation must adjust to a radically different life. Often a person is left permanently disabled, saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and other related expenses weighing on them and their family.
If you have experienced the traumatic loss of a limb, or if a loved one has, resources are available online to help you. Furthermore, if you believe that the limb loss was caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence, the personal injury attorneys at McNeely Stephenson are here for you.
Reasons Amputations and Limb Losses Occur
Severe accidents of many types can either sever limbs on their own or require life-saving medical treatment that leaves no option but to amputate. The most common reasons that amputations and accidental limb losses occur are:
- Motor vehicle crashes. Vehicular collisions are the No. 1 cause of traumatic amputations. Those who are especially vulnerable to limb loss are motorcyclists and bicyclists, but any accident victim who experiences blunt force trauma or severe burns can require life-saving surgical amputation. A number of motor vehicle accidents are caused by persons operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who otherwise exhibit reckless behaviors such as texting while behind the wheel.
- Accidents at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that 2,644 amputations happened in the workplace during 2015. Of that number, 57 percent were in manufacturing settings, 10 percent happened on construction sites, and 10 percent happened in the combined wholesale and retail trade. Other trades that carry significant risks of limb loss include agriculture, forestry, the oil and gas industries, and other industrial worksites. Occupational injuries can be due to owners or managers who do not detect dangerous conditions, or who refuse to correct them, leading to catastrophic injuries or deaths.
- Product defects. Often it is children who suffer when it comes to product defects. Small fingers and toes can become entangled in all sorts of mechanisms, even toys and recreational equipment. One example is a play area slide that was recalled in 2016 that is considered responsible for two accidental finger amputations.
Occasionally, medical mistakes that indicate malpractice can mean an amputation is necessary. Not providing an acceptable medical standard of care can result in an infection or other problem that necessitates a partial or full limb amputation to save the patient’s life.
The Costs of Amputation and Limb Loss
Arguably there is no more personal injury you can experience than losing a part of your body. Such catastrophic physical damage often translates into huge financial and emotional costs, with numerous psychological scars left behind. Older figures for Indiana indicate that medical costs for the average amputation are roughly $100,000 in the first year; and medical costs, in general, have risen sharply since 2007. Lifelong costs for an Indiana resident with an amputation in 2007 were at least half a million dollars. Again, medical and rehabilitative costs have climbed dramatically since then.
Some of the many factors that contribute to the need for medical services and related resources are:
- Prosthetic limbs improve a person’s quality of life and can even help them avoid total disability, allowing them to regain productivity. However, prosthetics must be tailored to the individual, which makes them expensive. Patients also require physical therapy in order to adjust to prosthetics, and artificial limbs must be replaced or upgraded regularly.
- A loss-of-limb accident can require psychological and occupational therapy in addition to physical therapy. It is common for a person with a traumatic amputation to need psychiatric or psychological therapy to cope with the feelings of loss, anxiety, depression, and any related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- When a person loses a limb, some form of rehabilitation is always required. In addition to learning how to perform daily tasks under new circumstances, a person with an amputation often needs to adjust to the demands of a new type of occupation.
- Modifications to homes and vehicles. Changes to the physical setup of a home, as well as to a motor vehicle—or even the need for a new vehicle—are not uncommon for a person with an amputation. Railings, ramps, vehicular hand controls, and other adjustments can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars. A new vehicle outfitted for someone with an amputation can easily top $40,000.
- Pain medication and other treatments. Anytime a person undergoes the loss of a limb, pain is part of the process, without question, and a number of different medications may be required. Additionally, persons with amputations can experience “phantom limb” pain, meaning they feel pain in a limb that is no longer there. Pain medication and other therapies are often needed to help the person live with the problem.
Having one or more limbs amputated can shake the financial foundations of the strongest family. The person with an amputation may discover that returning to work, or finding new work, is next to impossible, so lost wages become an issue. Add to this fact the many financial costs of recovery, and the person with an amputation and their loved ones can struggle mightily when it comes to financial survival. If someone else’s negligence is responsible for your financial difficulties, seeking experienced and compassionate legal assistance is well worth considering.
What is your next step toward justice?
Personal injury claims can be costly to pursue, and many law firms are not in a position to effectively reach a resolution in these cases. You can be assured that our investigative team at McNeely Stephenson goes to work immediately to uncover the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of any loss-of-limb case. We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available to uncover what happened.
Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit the highest standards of client care to your case. We offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Please call us today, or use our confidential online contact form.