Making Compensation Claims for Amputations
Accident victims may be entitled to make compensation claims for amputations if they have been involved in accidents which have resulted in the loss of a body part. Such claims can be made against a third party in industrial or road traffic accidents – provided that the accident in which the injuries were sustained was due to negligence, and when a duty of care has been breached.
Claims for amputation compensation may be possible in medical negligence* cases, such as when treatment has not been provided in adequate time to avoid the body part being amputated or for when the wrong body part has been removed. It must be said that medical negligence* claims are highly complex; however, accident victims should be able to make a claim for compensation for an amputation, provided that it can be determined mistakes have been made by professional medical practitioners which caused the need for amputation.
Instances of when Amputation Compensation can be Claimed
Industrial and road traffic accidents can lead to severe injuries being sustained. For example;
- When a hand or arm becomes trapped in heavy machinery
- Injuries sustained by crushing can cause such major tissue damages that it may not be possible to save the affected body part
- Serious road traffic accident can cause a limb to be severed or can also lead to serious tissue damage which may make amputation the only treatment option which doctors can provide.
For an accident victim to be able to claim compensation for amputations, it must be established that the accident in which the injury was sustained was primarily caused by third party negligence and that the third party in question owed the victim a duty of care that they failed to provide. A driver owes their passengers a duty of care, for example, and so a claim for compensation can be made against the driver of the car you were travelling in. All road users should drive in a safe manner so as not be put other driver and passenger lives in danger; therefore a driver who breaches their duty of care may be liable in a claim for compensation for an amputation.
If it can be proven that an accident was caused by an employer’s neglect in workplace health and safety practices, amputation compensation claims may be made against him or her. Some instances where this would be applicable would include the failure to install or maintain machine guards, failure to fit emergency power cut-off switches to dangerous machinery or failure to provide appropriate health and safety equipment. A lack of suitable training can also constitute employer negligence as when there is a risk of injury from using machinery or specialist equipment, staff must be properly trained to enable them to operate machinery safely.
Medical Negligence* Compensation Cases
It may be possible for compensation claims for amputations to be made in instances of;
- Procedural failing
- Incorrect treatments being administered, or
- Gross errors of judgment or mistakes made by medical practitioners due to incompetence.
However, it should be noted that the loss of a body part at the hands of a negligent surgeon or doctor does not guarantee amputation compensation being awarded.
In general personal injury* compensation claims where an injury has been sustained in an accident, it must be proven that the accident or injuries were a result of another party’s negligence. Medical negligence claims for amputations differ in that they cannot be proven in the same manner; it must be determined that “on the balance of probability” a medical professional made an error which no competent medical practitioner of similar status would have made in the same situation and that the amputation could have been avoided if a different route was taken.
This needs to be determined by expert medical opinion and if a body of doctors would have acted in a way which would have resulted in an amputation being prevented and a body part being saved, it should be possible to make an amputation compensation claim. As previously mentioned, medical negligence* compensation claims involving amputations tend to be highly complex and should only be initiated after consultation with a specialist medical negligence* solicitor.
Wrong Amputation Cases
There have been cases of compensation claims for amputations for the wrong amputation of a body part. Of course, cases such as these are extremely upsetting; not only does such an instance result in a serious shock to the patient and the loss of a healthy body part, but the patient must still undergo the correct surgical procedure to remove the injured body part. The loss of amenity from the wrong amputation of a body part is enormous; the incorrect amputation of an eye, for example, will cause blindness when only partial sought should have been lost. This serious and unnecessary disability would leave a detrimental effect on the victim’s quality of life.
The wrong amputation of a body part usually stems from a catalogue of errors;
- Mistakes may have been made by pre-op nurses causing the wrong identification of the body part to be removed
- Left-right confusion
- Incorrect or indecipherable recording of details on medical charts
- Incorrect tagging or labelling of the body part to be amputated.
Claims for wrongful amputation can be considerable in such cases because of the high level of loss of amenity and unnecessary trauma to the patient. Medical negligence cases through gross errors of judgement and clinical mistakes may seem to be the clearest cut instances of medical negligence* and a solicitor should always be consulted before making a claim. Although proof of negligence may be obvious it is still necessary to establish the third party to blame before compensation can be claimed and to determine the amount of compensation the victim is eligible for.
How to Claim for Compensation for an Amputation
In Ireland, all compensation claims for amputations – excluding those involving medical negligence* – will first need to go through the Injuries Board. The potential plaintiff must submit an application to the Board either by post or online and must include:
- Application Form A
- Form B (medical assessment completed by your treating doctor)
- Receipts or bills for any financial cost you wish to recover
- The fee of 45 Euro for postal application and 40 Euro for online submissions
The compilation of these files may seem straightforward, but it is recommended that you engage a solicitor to assist you with the gathering of any necessary additional documents and in completing the application Form A which should declare the circumstances of your accident and your subsequent injury. Any omissions or errors could see a reduction to the compensation proposed by the Injuries Board.
If the compensation proposed by the Injuries Board is accepted by all parties involved, the claim for compensation for an amputation may end at this stage. Should the compensation be rejected (or permission for the Injuries Board assessment withdrawn by the negligent party in the initial stages) you will be given an “Authorisation” to proceed to court.
It is, however, possible for a settlement for compensation to be reached through negotiations between your solicitor and the negligent party’s insurance company. In fact, the majority of injury compensation cases in Ireland are settled out of court. Nevertheless, it may to necessary to elevate to court if no settlement can be reached.
Compensation Awards for Amputations
Compensation claims for amputations are divided into general and special damages.
These are awarded for the physical pain and suffering and also for any emotional trauma experienced because of the amputation. General damages will also include a high proportion for compensation for any loss of amenity (the negative impact the injury has had on the victim’s quality of life) due to the loss of a body part.
These are concerned with the reimbursement of any past and future expenses which are attributable to the injury. The process of making a claim for compensation for an amputation will involve considerable medical costs, prosthetics, home modifications, changes to transportation, and considerable loss of income. All expenses will be calculated by a solicitor experienced in personal injury* claims and will be included in a claim for special damages in an amputation compensation claim.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
Without evaluating the injuries, the circumstances under which they were sustained and the effect they will have on the victim, it is impossible to accurately calculate the amount of compensation that an accident victim may be able to claim. Other factors must be taken into account, such as the issue of contributory negligence, before the victim’s eligibility for compensation can be calculated.
A personal injury* solicitor will evaluate any amputation compensation claims and will be able to give an accurate preliminary estimation on the maximum entitlement to compensation. It is worth noting that compensation amount are highly variable since, no two cases are ever exactly the same, even when the injuries sustained are, and how much compensation an individual may qualify for can only be provided on a claim by claim basis. For example, claims for finger amputations will be influenced by which finger was amputated, whether a whole finger has been lost and which hand was affected.
Compensation Claims for Amputations: Conclusion
If you have been the victim of an accident that resulted in you losing a limb or body part, and believe you have viable compensation claims for amputations, it is imperative that you speak with a solicitor at the first practical moment. Even though no amount of compensation can ever make up for the loss of a body part, you should not be made to suffer financially because of injuries you sustained in an accident for which you were not to blame.
A personal injury* solicitor would be of invaluable assistance when you claim for compensation for an amputation as they can ensure that all aspects of your claim are accounted for in the Injuries Board application process, when they negotiate with the negligent party’s insurers and if the case goes to court. The opportunity of achieving a successful claim would be maximised by using a solicitor who will make sure that you have the best chance of being awarded the full, fair amount of compensation for your amputation.