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Legal Options After a Traumatic Amputation

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Legal Options After a Traumatic Amputation


An amputation is the removal of all or part of a limb. Most amputations occur due to surgery, but some can happen during a traumatic event, such as a car accident. Amputations can involve the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, or toes. There are currently more than two million Americans who have lost a limb.  The most common type of amputation surgery performed today is an above or below-the-knee amputation. The closer the amputation is to the core of the body, the greater the impairment suffered by the individual.  

Here are some of the top reasons a person might need a surgical amputation:

  • A severe crushing blow or extensive laceration to an extremity during an accident
  • Lack of enough circulation to the extremity, as can occur with uncontrolled diabetes
  • Frostbite
  • A tumor within the extremity that cannot be excised
  • Severe burns

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic amputation or required surgical amputation following severe injuries in an automobile or other type of traumatic accident, our skilled injury lawyers may be able to help. If the incident that caused the injury resulted from another person or entity’s negligence, you might be able to recover monetary compensation. 

Traumatic Amputations

Traumatic amputations can happen when an extremity is cut off by a sharp object. Amputation may also occur if a limb is pulled away or avulsed from the rest of the body.  The most common scenarios in which a traumatic amputation may occur include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Machinery amputations – these are commonly occupational
  • Combat-related amputations
  • Burns to the extremities
  • Agricultural accidents
  • Amputations due to constriction by wire or rope
  • Explosion of fireworks
  • Amputations from having a door slam on the part of the extremities (usually a finger)
  • Degloving of a finger by having the ring on the finger pulled by another force

The impairment following the amputation of a major limb can be life-changing. If the injury resulted from another party’s negligence, the economic damages that the injured person may be able to recover could be very significant.

Monetary Damages in a Traumatic Amputation Case

A legal case wherein the plaintiff (the person suing) suffered an amputation may result in a large settlement or jury verdict. That is because it is such a severe injury, and the repercussions of the amputation will last for the remainder of the person’s life. Below are some of the categories of monetary damages potentially available in a traumatic amputation case:

  • Medical Expenses. The medical costs surrounding a traumatic amputation, or a surgical amputation necessitated by severe injuries suffered in an accident, will be astronomical. The injured person is entitled to repayment of those medical expenses by the party at fault in the accident. This category includes past medical care, as well as future treatment ordered by a physician. It may include expenses related to hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, home health care, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy, and other medical modalities. 
  • Loss of Income. An injured claimant is also entitled to recover the loss of earnings incurred due to the injuries. This would include wages, bonuses, commissions, and all other forms of income and benefits. Additionally, if the injury keeps a claimant from returning to their usual line of work, a loss of future earning capacity claim will be presented.
  • Disfigurement. An amputation is a form of disfigurement. Following such an injury, the physical body of the injured claimant will never look the same as it did before the accident. Part of the damages sought may include future surgery or other types of procedures to reduce scarring.
  • Loss of Consortium. Severe injuries to a spouse can cause harm to the marital relationship. If applicable, the injured person’s spouse may be entitled to monetary compensation for the adverse effect that the accident and injuries had on the marriage.

In addition to the above categories, if the negligence that resulted in the accident was particularly egregious, a claim for punitive damages may exist, meant to punish the wrongdoer and serve as a deterrent against future wrongdoing.   

Reasons for a Surgical Amputation

Amputations are most often done in a surgical setting and are necessitated due to medical conditions such as poor circulation to an affected body part.  People can suffer from poor circulation due to blocked arteries leading to extremity or frostbite that has damaged tissue and impaired circulation to the feet or arms.  If a body part is without circulation for a period of time, the tissue dies off, and infection becomes inevitable.  The amputation is performed to save the person’s life rather than live with a large area of dead tissue.

The amputation procedure is done in a hospital. The average length of hospital admission for such a surgery is between one and two weeks. In some instances, all of the damaged tissue is removed at once. Other times, the initial surgery is conservative, resulting in higher amputations if the stump fails to heal at the excised level. A surgeon will attempt to leave behind as much healthy tissue as possible. 

Traumatic Amputations and Microsurgery 

Now that doctors and surgeons have the capability to work on small nerves and vessels, traumatically severed limb parts can often be reattached.  Doctors must decide if the attempt to save the limb is appropriate or if amputation is the only viable option. 

Advances in Prosthetics

There have also been strides in developing prosthetic devices that largely mimic real activities done by the intact extremity and aesthetically pleasing prosthetic devices that can greatly enhance the individual’s self-esteem.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

For compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice following an accident, call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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