Amputation of a limb can occur for many different reasons but causes usually fall into two main categories: as a result of illness or because of trauma. A third category forms an umbrella over these two: medical negligence. This is because medical negligence can exacerbate an existing condition by misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Even in the case of trauma, if the patient is not managed correctly, medical negligence may lead to an amputation being necessary where otherwise a limb may have been saved.
No matter the reason for limb-loss, it can be a highly distressing experience which impacts both physically and psychologically. This distress can only be amplified if the amputation was caused directly or indirectly by someone else’s actions, through medical negligence.
Our specialist personal injury and medical negligence team dealing with amputation claims and limb-loss claims
Our Osbornes Law team is led by Stuart Kightley, Managing Partner and Head of our Personal Injury & Medical Negligence Departments. Both teams are supported by a team of lawyers able to speak various languages fluently including Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Spanish.
The team includes highly experienced specialist solicitors Rob Aylott and Kate Milton. Their combined experience spans over 40 years and both are skilled at gaining compensation and rehabilitation for clients with catastrophic injuries, involving loss of a limb or limbs.
Different types of amputation claims
There are various types of amputation claims, these include:
Traumatic amputations occur either as a direct result of trauma, such as loss of a finger while operating machinery, or following an injury that is so severe that the limb cannot be saved and must be removed, such as in a serious crushing wound. Road traffic accidents, malfunctioning machinery and inadequate health and safety at work are all common causes of traumatic amputation.
Above and below the knee amputations
In developed countries, trauma is the second leading cause of leg amputation. In the UK, of the approximately 5000 amputations performed each year, between 7-9% are due to trauma. People who undergo leg amputation following trauma are at high risk of suffering poor physical and mental health, long-term.
Legal Panel Member of Limbless Association
Osbornes Law is a member of the Legal Panel for the Limbless Association – selected for our expertise in personal injury and clinical negligence legal cases involving limb-loss and amputation. The Association provides support to amputees and the limb-loss community.
Our clients’ stories
- A motorcyclist was injured in a road traffic accident. As a result of the accident, he sustained a below knee amputation. After careful case management and rehabilitation, our client received private prosthetics and was able eventually to return to work. The High Court action was settled amicably between the parties without the need for a full trial, Damages awarded £1.75 million.
- A construction site worker sustained a below the leg amputation following an accident with a stump grinder.
Compensation for amputation claims and limb-loss claims
Depending on your circumstances you may be able to claim financial compensation for your amputation. The value of the compensation depends on various factors including the cause of the amputation, the location of the body affected and whether someone else’s negligence was a factor.
In the case of medical negligence, it must be shown that the amputation arose due to negligent care. This means that a health care professional or professionals owed you a duty of care, and that care was inadequate, leading to harm and your limb loss.
If you are awarded compensation, the amount of money should cover any loss of earnings and expenses incurred due to your amputation. Rehabilitation, the cost of a suitable prothesis and necessary adaptations to your house and car, as well as other associated costs will be considered. Finally, you should be compensated for pain and suffering, including any side effects that you suffer from the amputation, both physical and mental.
Our focus for all our clients is to seek rehabilitation at the earliest opportunity. We will provide access to free Independent Needs Assessments, by agreement, under the Rehabilitation Code & Serious Injury Guide; seeking early interim payments where possible to fund the rehabilitation required.
The idea of medical amputation may seem counter intuitive. Medical amputation is a planned, surgical removal of a limb in order to save a life or to alleviate chronic symptoms. Reasons for planned medical amputation include cancer, infection, gangrene and nerve damage arising from conditions such as diabetes, meningitis and cardiovascular disease. For example, just this year a young Scottish woman who picked up the ‘flesh-eating bug’ while on holiday in Turkey, had her leg amputated in order to save her life.
You may think that medical negligence leading to amputation is a thing of the past. You would be wrong. Sometimes medical amputation is required due to inadequate or inappropriate medical care and in these cases, medical negligence is a significant contributory factor.
Missed diagnosis leading to medical amputation
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by infection, most commonly bacteria. If left untreated it can cause poor blood flow, resulting in gangrene of limbs and organ damage.
Sadly, missed diagnosis of sepsis is real and has real-life consequences to real-life people. A delay in treatment can result in people being close to death, necessitating life-support intervention.
The long-term side effects of amputation
Following an amputation, a major life-adjustment is required. In addition to learning to live with limb-loss, there are a myriad of side effects that can affect an amputee. Every one of these side effects will impact negatively on quality of life. If you or someone you know has lost a limb due to amputation, you may recognise some of these symptoms.
Chronic pain: This is very common and can contribute significantly to any disability. People who have lost limbs describe different forms of long-term pain including:
- Phantom limb pain – a very common symptom in which pain is perceived where the missing limb used to be. Phantom pain is more likely to occur following traumatic amputation than medical amputation.
- Residual limb pain- this is also very common and is pain that originates from the remaining part of the amputated limb. Residual pain can arise from many different causes, including infection of the wound and a prothesis that is poorly fitted.
Loss of function: Depending on the site of the limb loss, loss of function can be severe. Many different factors can affect the recovery of function, including soft tissue and muscle coverage, surgical technique and prosthetic technology. Loss of function will have a direct impact on work options and ability to return to employment.
Call 0207 485 8811 or email PIonline@osborneslaw.com