Losing a limb is difficult regardless of the circumstances, but especially when the loss is the result of a traumatic amputation. Unlike an amputation that occurs in a planned surgery, a traumatic amputation is the separation of a body part such as a finger, toe, hand, foot, arm, or leg due to an accident or injury.
A traumatic amputation can be devastating – not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and financially as well. The loss of a limb in such an unexpected manner can impact every aspect of your life. This may include everything from the basic logistics of how you get around and accomplish a variety of tasks, to the manner in which you perform your duties at work, take care of your family, and maintain your home. Life may never be the same again.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic amputation due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important that you speak with a Richmond-based catastrophic injury attorney with experience in traumatic amputation cases.
What is a traumatic amputation?
There are certain medical conditions that, at some point, may require the amputation of a limb. These conditions include illnesses such as diabetes, blood clots, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), or an infection in the bones called osteomyelitis. The presence of cancerous tumors in the bones or muscles of a limb may also mean that amputating that limb is the best – or only – treatment available. Amputation may also be necessary due to a severe injury such as a crush injury or severe burns.
Typically, a limb is removed only after all other options have been explored and rejected for various medical reasons.
In those instances when amputation is necessary, the operation is planned ahead of time and performed by a trained surgeon in a sterile, controlled environment. Surgeons make every effort to preserve as much of the limb as possible.
In contrast, a traumatic amputation generally occurs suddenly and without warning, most often as part of an accident or other incident wherein a limb is completely or partially severed, or is crushed, mangled, or otherwise damaged beyond repair. If a limb is injured beyond repair and must be removed, emergency surgery may be required. While this is safer and better for the patient than the limb being separated in an accident, it is still considered a traumatic amputation.
What are the most common causes of traumatic amputations?
Traumatic injury accounts for approximately 45% of all amputations. These injuries occur most often because of:
- Motor vehicle accidents. A serious car accident or truck accident can cause catastrophic injuries such as a traumatic amputation. Limbs can be crushes or severely burned in the crash or if the person is ejected from the vehicle. In the case of a motorcycle accident, the bike provides almost zero protection and if it goes down a rider’s leg or arm may get caught underneath and separated or crushed.
- Occupational or industrial accidents. From construction sites to factories to the average office setting, workplace accidents can occur anywhere and can lead to traumatic amputation due to crushing injuries or severe burns.
- Combat injuries. Serving in a combat zone puts our military in grave danger of serious injuries and wounds from bullets, hand grenades, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other threats.
How often do traumatic amputations occur?
According to Johns Hopkins, approximately 45% of all amputations are the result of a traumatic injury. This includes a body part being cut off or torn away in a serious accident or being so severely crushed or burned that it cannot be saved and must be removed by a surgeon.
What happens after a traumatic amputation injury?
When a body part is amputated suddenly in an accident, complications may arise in the immediate aftermath. The victim may suffer serious bleeding, go into shock, or develop an infection. It is vital that they receive medical attention as soon as possible. These complications can lead to additional complications or may even be fatal on their own. The long-term recovery of people who lose a limb in a traumatic amputation depends largely on the level of care they receive immediately after the amputation.
The critical care that traumatic amputees receive is crucial, but so is their long-term care. Like any amputation, a traumatic amputation leaves a patient in need of a well-fitting and functional prosthesis, as well as physical therapy and other ongoing rehabilitative care. Patients may need other ongoing medical care as well and may suffer phantom pain from the amputated limb.
In addition to their physical care and rehabilitation, traumatic amputees also need treatment for their mental and emotional health. The shock of suffering a catastrophic injury and losing a limb is only the beginning. Depending on the limb, the person may have to learn entirely new ways to take care of him or herself, work, tend to their family, or clean their home. They may need a new career if their injury leaves them unable to perform the required tasks. Medical insurance may not cover all of the expenses, including the cost of prosthetics. All of this can take a tremendous toll on the amputee’s mental and emotional well-being.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic amputation in an accident or incident caused by the negligence of another person or entity, it is important that they are held responsible. The medical and other expenses involved in the long-term recovery and rehabilitation from a catastrophic injury like a traumatic amputation may be too much for an individual or family to shoulder. Lost time from work or the need to find new training or employment can place additional financial strain on you and your loved ones. The experienced Richmond-based catastrophic injury lawyers at Phelan Petty can help. Serving Richmond and all of Virginia, we fight on behalf of injury victims, including those who have suffered a traumatic amputation. Call us at 804-980-7100 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Since 2004, Jonathan Petty has applied the deep knowledge and experience he gained working on the defense side of litigation to represent ordinary people injured by car accidents and truck accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products in Virginia. He has successfully tried medical malpractice and personal injury cases to verdict in courts throughout Virginia, and he has handled cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts across the country.