An amputation is defined as all or partial removal of a limb or extremity such as an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger, or toe. Amputations affect about 1.8 million Americans, with the most common amputation/loss of limb injury being amputation of the leg, above or below the knee, according to WebMD.
The road to recovery after amputation is long and painful, and it doesn’t stop after your wounds heal. Deterioration in the quality of life, emotional duress, and pain all make your recovery a long uphill battle. Hopefully, you can still perform your job duties if you can even return to work at all.
What Causes an Amputation/Loss of Limb Injury?
Infections, vascular diseases, tumors, and surgical procedures can all be the cause of amputations. (Surgeons will remove damaged or “dead” limbs that could be poised to cause serious infection in the rest of the body.) In some cases, the amputation during surgery could have been avoided had the medical professional hadn’t been negligent. However, work-related injuries, car accidents, firearms, and explosives have also been known to cause amputation of arms or legs.
In the workplace, it’s usually jobs that require operating equipment that’s not supported with proper safety measures that put workers at risk the most. These positions including the operation of mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses, and milling machines as well as shears, grinders, and slitters, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To give an idea of the scope, consider a snapshot in time, between January 2015 and August 2016, that OSHA studied in which the agency found that almost 5,000 people suffered amputation injuries in the workplace.
How Are Amputation/Loss of Limb Injuries Treated?
The loss of a limb is sometimes a clean amputation such as in a lawnmower accident. Often, however, the limb hasn’t been completely removed in the accident and some or all of the limb remains, but is too damaged to be saved. In either case, surgery will be required.
Typically a patient will be under general anesthesia during the procedure. A surgeon will need to remove all the damaged tissue and leave as much healthy tissue as possible. Blood vessels will be sealed off and the limb will be shaped so that a prosthetic can be fitted.
Hospitalization for five to 14 days is typical depending on the complexity of the operation and complications such as infection. Within two weeks of surgery, a patient will start physical therapy and practice with a prosthetic. But the long painful and expensive road to recovery is just beginning.
Amputation/Loss of Limb Injury Costs Are High
According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the out-of-pocket medical costs of an amputation are over $90,000 for the first two years alone, and more than $500,000 over the lifetime of the victim. That doesn’t include prosthetics, which can cost as much as $40,000.
Add to that the loss of both current and future earnings. Although the costs aren’t just financial. Depression, anger, and stress can all take a toll on your mental and physical health. Personal and social relationships can be strained, too, as patients learn to cope with their new world.
What if Someone Else Caused Your Amputation/Loss of Limb Injury?
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury that resulted in amputation or a loss of limb and it wasn’t your fault, you need not fight for compensation alone. Whether it was the negligence of a driver, employer, medical professional, or another party, there are laws in place to help you hold them accountable and protect your rights.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are well versed in these laws on a national level and can help you pursue compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.