Overview: Compensation for Amputations
If you have lost a body part because you were involved in an accident that was the result of third party negligence and when there had been a breach in a duty of care, you may be able to claim compensation for amputations.
Common reasons for amputations include industrial and road traffic accidents, but claims for amputation compensation may also be possible due to medical negligence, which are usually highly complicated cases. However, provided that it can be determined that errors were made by professional medical practitioners which resulted in amputations that could have been prevented, it may be possible to claim for amputation compensation.
Who can Claim Amputation Compensation?
The vital factor in compensation for amputations claims is that the accident was at least partially caused by the negligence of another party. For example, a road traffic accident can lead to a compensation claim for an amputation being made against the negligent driver – be it the driver of the car you were travelling in or another road user. A driver owes their passengers a duty of care, and all road users should drive in a safe manner to reduce the risk of endangering other drivers and their passengers.
Serious vehicular accidents can cause severe tissue damage which necessitates amputation, or such accidents can result in a finger, hand or limb being severed. Industrial accidents can result in serious injuries being sustained in instances when a hand or arm becomes trapped in heavy machinery. Sometimes when crushing injuries cause major tissue damage, it may not be possible for the body part in question to be saved and amputation may be the only possible option.
Compensation claims for amputations can be made against an employer, but only if it can be proven that the accident was the result of failure to adhere to the correct workplace health and safety practises. Possible reasons for such failure could include:
- Failing to install or maintain machine guards
- Failure to provide appropriate health and safety equipment
- Failure to adequately fit emergency power cut-off switches to hazardous machinery
- Failure to properly train staff
Such breaches in the employer’s duty of care to his or her staff could warrant an amputation compensation claim being made against them.
Medical Negligence Cases
As mentioned previously, medical negligence cases tend to be extremely complex and the loss of a body part allegedly caused by a doctor or surgeon’s negligence will not necessarily result in compensation for amputations being awarded. However, claims for compensation may be possible if it can be proven that errors made by medical professionals due to incompetence, incorrect treatments being administered, gross errors of judgement or procedural failings resulted in an amputation.
To make compensation claims for amputations that were caused by medical negligence, it must be established by medical expert opinion that “on the balance of probability” the medical professional had made a mistake which no competent contemporary of similar status would have made under the same circumstance, and that the amputation could have been prevented had an alternative course of action been taken.
Therefore, an amputation compensation claim should be possible if a body of medical professionals would have acted in a manner which would have resulted in the prevention of an amputation and a body part being saved. As medical negligence compensation claims for amputations are usually so problematic, they should only be pursued with the assistance of an expert medical negligence solicitor.
Compensation Claims for the Wrong Amputation
A most traumatic instance of medical negligence is when the wrong body part is amputated. The patient would not only experience severe trauma and the loss of a healthy body part, but it will still be necessary for the correct surgical procedure to be performed on the relevant part of the body.
It is only in very rare cases that a doctor fails to ensure that a correct body part is removed and often it is a range of unfortunate errors that cause the wrong body part to be amputated. Potential mistakes that could lead to this terrible mistake could include:
- Left-right confusion
- Incorrect labelling or tagging of the body part
- Incorrect/undecipherable recording of details on medical charts
- Procedural errors made by pre-op nurses
Because of the unnecessary trauma and high degree of loss of amenity to a patient caused by the wrong amputation, compensation claims for amputations in such cases can be substantial. Even though errors of judgment of this magnitude and clinical errors seem to be the most obvious cases of medical negligence, an experienced solicitor should always be consulted in such a situation. Although proof of medical negligence may be clear, it would still be necessary to establish the various third parties to blame before compensation can be claimed, and to determine how much compensation you may qualify for.
Amputation Compensation Awards
Compensation for amputations will be divided into general damages and special damages. General damages refer to what is awarded for the pain and suffering of the physical injury but can also include compensation for:
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of opportunity
- Loss of amenity
Special damages relate to the recovery of any financial costs that have been incurred as a result of the injury, and what will be incurred in the future. Examples of what could be Included in special damages are:
- Medical costs
- Home alterations
- Loss of income
- Changes to transportation
In order to accurately calculate the amount of compensation an amputee victim can claim, the injuries must be assessed, the circumstances under which they were sustained must be investigated, the impact they have on the victim should be evaluated and contributory negligence will be taken into account, if necessary.
A solicitor experienced in personal injury cases will assess any compensation claims for amputation and can advise on how much in compensation their client can expect to receive. It is important to note that while a general estimation of what one may receive can be given, the actual compensation figure can only be provided based on the case’s individual merits. For example, compensation for finger amputations will be influenced by which finger was amputated, whether a whole finger has been lost and which hand was affected.
Third Party Capture in Compensation Claims for Amputations
Compensation for amputations can often be substantial given the pain, considerable suffering and significant loss of amenity involved in such cases. The third party responsible for the accident that caused such a tragic injury will not, however, pay for the substantial damages out of their own resources – their insurance company will be liable. An accident victim should be aware, therefore, that it is not unusual for the negligent party’s insurers to make an unsolicited offer of amputation compensation directly to the victim – often before they have time to seek legal advice – and that such offers should be treated with extreme caution.
Offers such as these – known as third party capture – are not made with the victim’s interests in mind but in order to reduce the amount of amputation compensation that they are actually liable for. An early offer of compensation for an insurance company may appear high but they seldom account for all vital elements of the injury. Issues affecting mental health including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression are unlikely to be included into the compensation amount offered by the insurers.
If you receive such an offer, it would be in your best interests to refer it to a personal injury solicitor for a comprehensive assessment. Only when the full entitlement to compensation you qualify for has been calculated should a decision be made whether to accept an offer from an insurance company.
Compensation for Amputations – A Final Note
If you have sustained serious injuries in an accident which has resulted in you having a body part removed or if you have lost a limb or body part directly in an accident, it is imperative that you consult with a solicitor at the first practical moment about claiming compensation for amputations. No amount of compensation will substitute for the loss of a body part; however you should also be no worse off financially than you were before the accident because of the injury that was sustained through no fault of your own.
Potential plaintiff will increase their client’s chances of making successful compensation claims for amputations when they engage a personal injury solicitor who will also ensure that their clients have the best opportunity of being compensated for the full amount they are entitled to.