Limb loss is an oft-misunderstood topic here in the United States. However, it is more common than many people may believe. In fact, according to the National Limb Loss Information Center, there are almost two million people living with limb loss in the country. Oftentimes, limb loss occurs as a result of a traumatic amputation. If you do not know what a traumatic amputation is, it is simply the loss of a body part due to an accident. This is generally classified as a catastrophic injury in any personal injury or accident claims.
It is important to raise awareness about amputations and the accidents that may lead to them. That is why the Amputee Coalition works to “make sure our legislators and insurance policymakers are educated about the needs of the community.” Furthermore, if you or a loved one have recently suffered from an amputation injury, it is absolutely vital for you to know the next steps to take. Oftentimes, this may involve speaking to a knowledgeable lawyer about how to deal with the legal and medical costs of the injury.
Traumatic amputations are actually the second leading cause of limb loss. The first leading cause of limb loss is vascular disease. Many times, these accidents occur as a result of a work-related injury. This is especially true if the worker in question has to operate heavy machinery, use saws, or do construction work. Automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents also make up a large portion of these injuries. Finally, traumatic amputations may also be caused by defective products that were either negligently designed or lacked proper safety features.
Just like there are many different types of accidents that can cause limb loss, there are many different types of traumatic amputation as well. They may be complete or partial. A complete amputation, or complete loss, is one in which the body part is entirely severed from the body. A partial amputation, or partial loss, is one in which some bone, tissue, or muscle is still intact enough to keep the amputated body part attached to the rest of the victim’s body. The method of injury also affects the classification of harm.
“Guillotine” amputations have clean, well-defined edges. They include only localized damage to the surrounding blood vessels, nerves, and tissue. In comparison, “crush” amputations involve more tissue damage. This damage may even extend some distance from the edge of the wound. A stretching or tearing away of the tissue is called an “avulsion.” An avulsion is a type of loss that involves extensive damage to blood vessels, bones, nerves, and soft tissue. This has a significant impact on how the injury will ultimately turn out, including the possibility of whether or not the severed body part will be able to be reattached.
The term “reimplantation” refers to the reattachment of an amputated body part. There are several different factors that go into whether or not a severed body part can be successfully reattached. The largest of these factors is the type of injury. Guillotine-type amputations are most likely to be successful. Crush or avulsion losses, on the other hand, carry with them a greater degree of damage to the surrounding tissues. This makes them less likely to succeed.
The location of the injury must also be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, upper extremity reattachments are more successful than lower extremity reattachments. This is due to the fact that lower extremities involve more muscle mass. The longer the body part has been without blood flow, the slimmer the chances of successful reattachment.
There are still many other factors to take into consideration when it comes to reattachment. Two important ones are the age of the victim and any other medical conditions they may have. Unfortunately, older patients and those suffering from other injuries or medical conditions are less likely to have a successful reattachment.
Amputation injuries are among the most significant an individual could ever suffer. It follows, then, that the medical expenses that come with these injuries can be quite exorbitant. Many victims find themselves requiring a multiple-day hospital stay. This is inevitably followed up by an extensive rehabilitation process, which may even end up involving prosthetics (i.e., artificial limbs).
While prosthetics certainly make life easier for many amputees, they are also quite an investment. They can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and they must also be replaced every two to five years. Even then, the victim may find it necessary to make modifications to their living situation in order to increase accessibility and function for their new lifestyle.
Recovery can be a lifelong process. It is not uncommon for amputees to face significant medical expenses for ongoing rehabilitation and therapy. Victims may also find that their new condition affects their livelihood. Depending on their line of work, amputees may face a loss of employment income. If this happens to you, you may need to undergo vocational retraining to find adequate employment. Unfortunately, insurance will usually not fully cover all the costs of an amputation injury.
Studies have found that approximately one out of every 200 people in the United States has had an amputation. Although the rates for trauma-related injuries have, fortunately, been decreasing, a significant number of these accidents still happen every year. More specifically, 70% of trauma-related amputations involve the upper limbs, and men are at a significantly higher risk of becoming victims. The risks also increase for all potential victims as they age.
If you or a loved one have recently suffered from an amputation accident, you do not need to go through it alone. A good amputation injury lawyer may be able to help you seek out the full compensation you deserve. We at Injury Victim Law can help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to help personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our nationwide amputation injury attorneys. Let us fight for you.