Common Causes of Amputation and Limb Loss
As mentioned above, the two biggest causes of limb loss — vascular disease and trauma — are fairly evenly divided. Trauma is the cause that can result in legal and other actions to recover from the losses and pain and suffering that result. In a vascular case, unless there is some sort of medical malpractice involved, the person suffering the limb loss will pretty much be on their own.
Trauma leading to amputation can result from accidents, whether motor vehicle- or machinery-based, and also from burns. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declares workplace-based limb loss cases to be “widespread.”
Amputations, according to OSHA, occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded 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.
Possible Complications From Limb Loss
The cost of a prosthetic device can range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the limb and the complexity of the prosthetic. And that’s just the beginning of the economic costs. As noted above, an amputee’s lifetime healthcare costs will increase dramatically to cover medications, physical therapy, medical equipment, doctors’ visits, and more.
Emotional loss is another aspect of an amputation. Some 30 percent of those suffering limb loss also suffer resulting depression. There can also be a huge toll on the person’s ability to make a living. Wage loss from the challenges resulting from the loss of a limb can be dramatic and life-altering.
Recovering Financially From Your Amputation
If your amputation and limb loss resulted from an accident caused by another (in a car accident, for example) then you certainly can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the insurer, the driver, or both.
If your amputation results from a workplace accident, then your first claim has to be against your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation law precludes suing your employer, but if your loss resulted from malfunctioning machinery, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, designer, or even supplier for a defect or lack of safety features or instructions.
Note, however, that California follows the legal principle of pure comparative negligence. This means that in any accident, both (or all) parties can be assigned a percentage of the blame.
Say you’re rear-ended in an auto accident and suffer injuries, but your brake lights fail to work. You could be assigned 20 percent (or more or less) of the fault. As a result, your settlement or award could be reduced by that percentage. Thus, your $100,000 claim might result in only $80,000 -- $100,000 minus 20 percent.
What Can Be Recovered Financially?
With the loss of a limb, you’re going to face lifelong emotional and financial costs, so you have to factor all that in when you’re seeking a settlement with an insurance company. Once you reach a settlement, you cannot go back and ask for more if complications develop later on. You really need to let an experienced personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurance company.
Obviously, if a personal injury lawsuit is warranted, then an attorney will need to handle all of that for you. Therefore, the first person you should contact after a catastrophic accident is a personal injury attorney. There is simply too much at stake to try to handle everything yourself when it comes to holding others accountable.
Amputation and Loss of Limbs Attorneys Serving Southern California
If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a limb due to another’s negligence or because of a product defect or malfunctioning anywhere in Orange County, contact us immediately at the Law Offices of Steven Zwick. We will treat you with the utmost care and compassion while pursuing every legal avenue to obtain the compensation you deserve.