We cannot ever truly put a value on the loss of a limb and the associated trauma and life-changing events that it will give rise to.
However, the law has now developed a system to try and put amputees in the position they would have been had the amputation never happened.
In this way, the amputee is compensated for the loss of limb and losses that arise as a result.
This can include:
- Replacement limbs or prosthetics
- Rehabilitation costs
- Home and car adaptions
- Loss of earnings / pension.
Here we look at the compensation levels for the loss of a limb.
Traumatic and Surgical Amputations
Suffering an amputation as a result of an accident or clinical negligence is, in every sense of the word, traumatic.
If you have been involved in an accident which has resulted in a traumatic or subsequent surgical amputation, then it is essential to speak with your serious injury solicitor to get expert advice from the outset.
Medical professionals will always do what they can to preserve a limb, and amputation is seen as a last resort.
The most common cause of amputation is from a crush injury. That crush can be caused by many different circumstances, a serious road traffic collision or an accident at work being two of the most common that can result in life-changing injuries.
Types of Amputation
Medics distinguish between a traumatic amputation and non-traumatic (or surgical). To the lay person there may not seem to be any difference.
- Traumatic amputation refers to how the limb has been lost, usually in a sudden, unexpected and violent event. This could be a road traffic collision or a workplace accident.
- Surgical amputation occurs when someone has suffered a crush, and medical professionals cannot save the limb, often due to the blood flow having been interrupted or ceased.
Surgical amputation may not happen immediately, and the injured person may undergo numerous operations to try and save the limb.
It is likely that following the amputation, you will have to spend time in the hospital and then discharge to a rehabilitation ward.
Once you have gone through a significant period of rehabilitation, you may then be offered artificial limbs or prosthesis. Those provided on the NHS are basic.
Here your serious injury solicitor can work with the insurers of the person or company responsible for the accident that led to the amputation and put an early and essential rehabilitation package in place. This is key to accessing the best possible artificial limbs together with psychological counselling to deal with the life-changing effects of your loss.
Your specialist serious injury solicitor will also talk to you about any other aspects of your potential claim to help you to maintain your standard of living. They will work to compensate you for loss of earnings plus possible adaptions to your home, car and even a change of accommodation.
Level of Compensation
The level of compensation for amputation injuries in the UK is abysmally low, and how a judge would assess your claim for actual injury elements is to look at the Judicial College Guidelines and previously decided cases of similar fact.
Factors that will be taken into consideration will be:
- The type of amputation – traumatic or surgical
- How the injury that led to the amputation happened
- Your age and gender
- Your psychological reaction and level of ongoing phantom pains (where you still feel pain in the limb that is no longer there)
Brief Overview of Available Amputation Compensation
- A below-knee: £83,550.00 – £109,570.00
- An above-knee amputation: £78,100.00 – £106,010.00
- Loss of both legs below the knee: £160,600.00 to £215,310.00
- Loss of both arms: £191,950.00 – £239,140.00
- Loss of one arm above the elbow: £87,410.00 – £104,370.00
- Loss of a little finger: £6,890.00 – £9,760.00
Artificial Limbs and Prosthetics
Your specialist serious injury solicitor will advise you on the other items that can be claimed for, some of which have already been mentioned. A significant part of the claim for compensation will be for the cost of providing artificial limbs for life and their maintenance and replacement.
Depending upon your lifestyle before the accident, many different prostheses are likely to be needed, for example, one for swimming / running, skiing etc.
There are many different artificial limbs available to suit each individual, the type of amputation and lifestyle.
Each artificial limb is a bespoke product. This means that it will take time to construct and fit. The post-operation fitting procedure is lengthy but is essential to ensure the correct fit of the artificial limb and to put the you in the best position possible to start rebuilding your life.
Artificial Limb Technology
There are many different providers of artificial limb, though current state of the art technology is provided by Ottobock.
The Triton Harmony is suitable for below knee amputations and combines the Harmony limb with Triton foot to improve the wearers gait and stability.
The Ottobock Genium x3 is suitable for above knee amputations. This has an artificial knee with a microprocessor control. This records how the leg is moving and makes minuscule adjustments to ensure stability. This means that the wearer can be less cautious when walking on uneven ground and when moving from walking to running, for example chasing after a runaway toddler or running to catch a bus.
Further details at http://www.ottobock.co.uk/prosthetics/lower_limb_prosthetics/prosthetic-product-system
Suffering an amputation requires a high level of support from those around you – many charities who can assist and provide support and guidance.