Last updated on May 14th, 2022 at 08:45 am
Even though there have been great strides made in the area of prosthetics and assistance for amputees, there can be few injuries as physically and mentally damaging as an amputation. Literally losing a limb can be life-changing, change the way a person thinks and have a massive impact upon their personal life. We have seen instances of mood swings, aggression, depression and an array of other conditions which can often be directly linked to an accident resulting in amputation compensation claims.
Amputation Compensation Claims Advice
While there are many different areas of personal injury claims which attract significant competition, there is no doubt that compensation for amputation as a result of an accident is a specialised area. In many cases, an amputation compensation claim settlement will run into many thousands of pounds. It is therefore imperative that you secure expert advice when claiming compensation for amputation of a limb. Specialist solicitors will be able to provide:
- Detailed advice on the strength of your amputation claim.
- A thorough assessment from an independent third-party medical professional.
- Access to treatments that are not necessarily available via the NHS.
- Early financial assistance.
- Help in finding high-quality prosthetics.
- Putting together an amputation care plan.
- Managing amputation compensation payments.
While each case will bring its own challenges, the more experienced your solicitor have with amputation compensation claims the more chance of a successful claim.
No Win No Fee Amputation Claims
The traditional personal injury solicitor will agree to a No Win No Fee case in exchange for an average 25% of any compensation. There may be scope for negotiation where relatively large amputation compensation claims are secured but this would depend upon the cost of bringing the claim and the time taken. When you bear in mind that some amputation compensation claims can result in payments in excess of £1 million there are some relatively large figures involved.
Proving Negligence And Liability In An Amputation Claim
While exact figures are not readily available, we know that the NHS take care of thousands of amputation patients each and every year. The vast majority tend to be diabetes related amputations as instances of diabetes continue to grow, but there are also many traumatic accidents, medical misdiagnosis and delayed treatments that result in amputation compensation being paid. Even if it is not immediately clear which party was negligent and which party may be liable, that should not stop you from pursuing an amputation personal injury claim.
Amputations Due To An Accident At Work
The Health and Safety Executive is in charge of regulating the working environment and ensuring that employers recognise their duty of care to their employees. There will be instances where an employer has done everything “reasonably expected” to secure the safety of their employees although there are many other occasions where health and safety laws are disregarded. It will come as no surprise to learn that the more common amputation injuries at work occur in the following environments:
- Construction/ building industry.
- Factory and manufacturing work.
- Mining/ quarrying.
- Forestry and fishing, agriculture.
Unfortunately, far too often we hear reports of major amputation injuries caused by faulty machinery and poorly maintained tools. This can be an especially challenging area in the world of agriculture and farming accidents with so many potentially dangerous pieces of equipment used on a regular basis. The Health and Safety Executive will take action where there has been negligence or a breach of health and safety regulations such as:
- Failing to install correctly and maintain machinery and machine guards.
- Failing to provide correct protective equipment.
- Failing to provide training in using tools and hazardous machinery.
- Failing to review, update and maintain health and safety procedures.
- Failing to investigate and identify potential safety hazards.
While historically the fact that an employer had the relevant procedures in place may have exempted them from liability in the past, this is not the case today. These procedures must be part of the working procedure and the employer must ensure they are followed to the letter. Failure to ensure that employees follow company processes may see them deemed negligent and liable for compensation for an amputation injury in the eyes of the law.
Under health and safety regulations the employer also has a responsibility to report accidents in the workplace. In instances involving defective safety equipment or machinery, the “strict liability” ruling might apply. This effectively holds the employer liable to pay compensation for injuries to employees even when they might not have been aware of the defective machinery before the incident. The idea is to place as much emphasis on health and safety and regular assessments as possible.
Where an employer is prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive this may strengthen the case of any employees who have been injured as a consequence of the issues raised.
Amputation After A Road Traffic Accident
Unfortunately, instances of potentially life-threatening accidents and amputations are far too commonplace on our roads today. If you were injured in a road traffic accident through no fault of your own and had to go through the harrowing experience of an amputation then you could have a strong claim for compensation.
In some instances, negligence may be difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt and sometimes the claimant may be partially responsible for the road traffic accident. One specific example is a road traffic accident where the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt. If it could be proven “beyond all reasonable doubt” that not wearing a seatbelt had increased the severity of the injury leading to the amputation then the claimant would be held partly responsible. This may result in a significant reduction in compensation which would be apportioned on a pro-rata basis between the relevant parties.
Even with a 50% reduction when the claimant was found to be partly responsible for an accident, we may still be talking of payments in excess of £100,000. So, while many people will have dismissed lodging claims for amputations and other severe injuries because they were “partly responsible” this should not stop you from lodging a claim.
Amputations Resulting From Medical Negligence
Over the years we have seen a massive increase in the number of compensation payments made as a consequence of medical negligence. There are many issues to take into consideration with the ongoing pressures on the NHS regularly mentioned as a reason for the increase in payments. It may be possible to make a claim for compensation if amputation was the only option due to misdiagnosis, delayed treatment or some other form of medical negligence. It should be fairly easy to prove negligence and liability in these particular cases, taking advice from independent medical professionals.
One relatively common occurrence relates to broken tibia and fibula bones where an x-ray may not show the full extent of the injuries. We have seen situations where one of the broken bones is treated while the other remains untreated and can lead to complications and potential amputation further down the line. One of the main reasons for amputation is because of blood flow issues which can slowly kill the affected limb – potentially causing more medical issues.
Amputations Relating To Diabetes
As we touched on above, the number of people suffering from type I and type II diabetes has increased enormously in recent years. We know that diabetes has a major impact on blood circulation and will often affect the healing process associated with cuts and ulcers. Infections are more commonplace and gangrene can develop which can, unfortunately, lead to amputation as the only option.
The only real reason for a compensation claim relating to amputation as a consequence of diabetes will revolve around negligence and misinformation. It is imperative that diabetics are advised of potential issues, how to avoid them and what they can do to minimise the risk of infection. If the patient has not been given this information and amputation of a limb is the end result then they may be entitled to claim damages.
Definitions Of Amputation Injuries
While there are many situations in which amputation is the only option they are grouped into specific classes:
We can only imagine the pressure, stress and trauma of being involved in an accident where a limb is lost. The emergency services see these types of injury on a regular basis often involving industrial type machinery, vehicles and potentially dangerous tools. While a “planned” amputation is bad enough from a physical and psychological point of view, to suddenly lose a limb as a consequence of an accident that was not your fault must be devastating.
In this instance the level of amputation compensation paid out will reflect not only the injury but the physical and mental trauma and can often dwarf those from surgical amputations.
It is fair to say that diabetes is by far and away the greatest contributor to surgical amputations where blood circulation is severely reduced with potentially life-threatening consequences. There are also situations due to accidents, infection and even conditions such as cancer which can bring great pain and suffering to a particular limb. It is not commonplace for traditional illnesses and medical conditions to lead to amputation because there are often many treatment options prior to amputation. However, we do come across situations of negligence with regards to fairly straightforward medical conditions which can eventually lead to a loss of limbs.
In theory recovery from an amputation is relatively straightforward but many victims will suffer physical and mental trauma for years to come. We hear instances of victims feeling phantom pain in the limbs which they have lost with some medical professionals blaming confused brain and spinal cord issues for this. As phantom pain in lost limbs is in effect a psychological condition it can be extremely difficult to treat with the victim experiencing pain and suffering for many years. These issues will be reflected in any compensation payments in the event of a successful claim.
Compensation Amounts For Amputation
There is no doubt that compensation guidelines for amputation often dwarf more common personal injury claims. However, there is also no doubt that amputation can have a massive impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being – issues that are often reflected in claims guidelines. The basic guidelines for amputation compensation amounts issued by the Judicial College are as follows:
- Amputation of both arms – £240,790 up to £300,000.
- Amputation of one arm (at the shoulder) – no less than £137,160.
- Amputation above the elbow – £109,650 up to £130,930.
- Amputation below the elbow – £96,160 up to £109,650.
- Amputation of both hands – £140,660 up to £201,490.
- Amputation of one hand by amputation at the wrist – £96,160 up to £109,650.
- Amputation of finger or thumb – £8,640 up to £54,830.
- Amputation of both legs – £240,790 up to £282,010.
- Amputation of both legs below the knee – £201,490 up to £270,100.
- Amputation of one leg below the knee – £97,980 up to £132,990.
- Amputation of one leg above the knee – £104,830 up to £137,470.
- Amputation of both feet – £69,400 up to £201,490.
- Amputation of one foot/ ankle – £83,960 up to £109,650.
The above payments are referred to as general damages which are paid to compensate for pain and suffering caused as a consequence of the accident.
Special damages relate to financial implications on the person’s life as a result of the accident and amputation. They take into account issues such as:
- Loss of earnings.
- Future loss of earnings.
- Cost of medical equipment.
- Cost of adapting home.
- Cost of adapting a vehicle.
There are many other issues that can be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis, but the above special damages give you an idea. In reality, they cover the reimbursement of historical financial losses and estimated future financial costs.
Loss Of Amenity
Even though there are other personal injury claims, other than amputations, where a loss of amenity is suffered, this type of injury does tend to attract the highest levels of compensation for amputees. It can impact the person’s ability to work, socialise, enjoy normal family life and even partake in the sports they used to enjoy. If the amputation of a limb has in any way impacted the person’s ability to enjoy the lifestyle they had before the accident then this must be taken into consideration.
Personal Injury Trust
As we touched on earlier, compensation claims for amputation of limbs and body parts regularly reach many thousands of pounds with many going on beyond the £1 million barrier. The vast majority of compensation settlements will result in a one-off lump sum payment based upon expenses incurred and future expenses together with direct compensation for pain and suffering and impact on the victim’s life. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a serious potentially life-threatening injury, financial management is not always top of the agenda for victims.
The amputation compensation settlement is calculated as closely as possible to cover the array of factors listed above. Therefore, in a perfect world, the compensation payment should be put to one side and used solely for the purposes defined by the courts. The best way to ensure there are sufficient funds available going forward to cover future expenses is to look at a personal injury trust. It is also worth noting that compensation payments do not form part of any means test for the UK benefits system. Therefore, even a claimant who received a payment in excess of £1 million may still be entitled to an array of benefits which might include housing, jobseekers allowance, etc.
Some law firms will also offer a personal injury trust service which can prove invaluable for many people going forward.
In some situations, your solicitor will have relationships with third parties able to offer a range of bespoke care packages. These will take into account the claimant’s physical and mental issues experienced as a direct result of the accident in question. Issues such as state-of-the-art treatment and groundbreaking therapies are not generally available via the NHS but could be a life-changer for those suffering amputation of limbs and body parts.
The care package will also involve a thorough assessment of your working and home life and where a care package could help to alleviate pain and suffering. Issues such as modifications to your home or your vehicle can often reduce the physical and mental pain and suffering and make life more bearable. We have also seen major developments in areas such as wheelchairs which are now extremely light, very durable and while sometimes expensive they are still available to the mass market.
Amputation Compensation Claim Solicitors
While claiming damages for any injury requires an obvious degree of experience and skill, the task of claiming amputation compensation is an even more specialist area. An experienced solicitor in amputation cases will be able to review your case, give you advice and secure reports and other information to support your claim where required. Even though you might be forgiven for expecting amputation compensation claims to take longer to settle, this is not always the case where negligence and liability are quite straightforward to prove. In these cases, the main delay will probably be negotiations over the exact compensation settlement and what it will involve.
In some circumstances, for example, an accident in the workplace, you may have before the event insurance cover which will cover immediate expenses prior to lodging a compensation claim. Some people may also need to take out after the event insurance cover which again offers a degree of assistance until any compensation settlement is agreed. If you have any questions about insurance cover, the process of lodging an amputation compensation claim or anything else relating to your injury, our expert solicitors and legal advisers will be able to assist.