Amputation compensation claims
In the following article we set out what you need to know about making a claim for an amputation or lost limb compensation claim.
Improvements in the speed and quality of treatment for catastrophic injuries has meant that amputees can expect a better prognosis following their injury. Ongoing advancements in medical and prosthetics technology also means that injured people can expect to return to a better quality of life and work.
Securing the best possible outcome
Making a claim for compensation provides the funding needed to adapt your life and continue to benefit from these advancements. Securing the best possible financial settlement is only part of what a good solicitor will do for you.
If you have suffered a serious injury that led to the amputation of a limb, you will need legal assistance that supports your overall physical and psychological rehabilitation. This can include:
- A thorough and independent needs assessment
- Access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS
- Early financial assistance with treatment, support, home modifications etc.
- Help in finding state-of-the-art prostheses
- Co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and wheelchair providers
- Arranging for a Blue Badge where appropriate
- Ensuring that your compensation is ring-fenced by a Personal Injury Trust to protect it from tax and means testing
- Organising welfare benefits advice
Help with bills, mortgage payments and financial admin
A specialist solicitor will also act to protect your home and your family's finances, and will liaise with your bank or building society concerning mortgage payments and other loans, direct debits and standing orders. They can also contact credit card companies, credit hire providers and also utility companies regarding household bills.
Amputation compensation is a highly specialised area of the law. These claims should not be handled by a general personal injury solicitor.
Working with a lawyer with specific experience in handling amputation claims is critical in ensuring the best possible outcome for the claimant.
Kevin Walker is the most experienced lawyer on our amputation solicitor panel and heads up a team of highly experienced amputation claim solicitors.
Over the last 20 years, Kevin has successfully achieved numerous amputee settlements in excess of £1m for his clients. He has a particular expertise in active prosthetics and assistive technology. Through this interest and his experience, Kevin has been able to help many clients overcome a range of mobility, dexterity and confidence issues following amputation.
A recent amputation settlement achieved by Kevin was for a 56-year-old male transtibial amputee at £1.4m.
Protecting your compensation sum with a Personal Injury Trust
Compensation awards for amputation injuries will frequently exceed £100,000s. The amount is carefully assessed to ensure that the claimant can afford the treatment, support and prosthetics they need, both immediately and on an ongoing basis.
Although awards are sometimes paid out in the form of regular payments, it is common for claimants to receive a single large, lump sum. This sum must be handled properly and with the benefit of independent financial advice.
Setting up a personal injury trust ensures that the funds are not depleted too soon and are not counted against means-tested state benefits, such as jobseekers allowance and housing benefit.
The overall award calculation will also factor in the rate of return that the claimant can expect to make by investing their money conservatively. Without specialist advice, it can be difficult to safely achieve the return required to ensure that the money goes as far as it needs to.
Going beyond legal advice with a bespoke 'Care Package'
Your solicitor should also be able to help provide you with a care package tailored to your needs.
The care package will follow the independent assessment and can include a wide range of treatments like physiotherapy and psychotherapy. Packages can also include treatments like mirror box therapy to retrain the brain and electrical stimulation and advanced pain management treatments.
The care package will assess the suitability of your home and car and ensure that suitable mobility modifications are carried out.
Ensuring that you are able to get around, both in the short and long term, will also be considered. Wheelchair technology has made quantum leaps over recent years and your solicitor will ensure you have access to the latest improvements.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Quittance's amputation-specialist solicitors work on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever if your claim is unsuccessful.
Your solicitor will arrange for after-the-event (ATE) insurance to cover the cost of any disbursements that need to be paid out during the claims process, such as for independent medical reports.
When you instruct a lawyer to start your claim, they will ask you to sign a conditional fee agreement (CFA). This agreement sets out the solicitor's terms, and specifies the percentage success fee that they will receive if they win your case.
What about success fees?
Most personal injury solicitors will take 25% of a claimant's compensation award if they win the case. For example, if you are awarded compensation of £150,000, the solicitor would receive £37,500 in success fees leaving you with the residual £112,500.
Given the life-changing nature of serious injury, Quittance adopts a fairer approach for claimants. Our solicitors will usually significantly reduce the level of their success fee.
For more information on how we aim to offer the lowest solicitor success fees for amputation claims, call us on 0800 612 7456.
The NHS treats 1,000s of new amputation injury patients every year. Although the number of diabetes-related amputations is rising, a percentage of newly-referred cases also relate to amputations resulting from traumatic accidents, delayed treatment and misdiagnosis.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been injured as the result of another party's actions or negligence, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
Amputation following an injury at work
According to data gathered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) relating to accidents at work, the industries and sectors where amputation injuries are most common include:
- Factory work
- Mining and quarrying
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
The most common risk to workers is identified as “machines or tools”, but vehicles can also pose a serious hazard.
Where an employer has failed to protect their workforce against the risk of serious injury, it may be possible for an injured person to claim compensation. Evidence of a company's negligence or other breach includes:
- Failure to install or correctly use machinery guards
- Lack of adequate protective equipment
- Lack of suitable training in the use of tools, vehicles and dangerous machinery
- Failure to have or maintain proper health and safety processes, including regular inspections, ongoing and refresher training
- Failure to promptly identify or resolve safety hazards
It is not sufficient for an employer to have processes in place. These processes must be followed, and regularly updated. If a company fails to do any of the above and someone is injured as a result, the injured worker may have grounds for a claim.
In cases involving defective machinery or safety equipment, “strict liability” may apply. This means that the defendant company is liable to pay compensation even if they were not aware of the defect before the accident.
Companies' legal requirements, prosecutions and convictions for amputation injuries
The Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) require employers to report certain workplace accidents.
Amputation injuries are so serious that the HSE recognise these as “specified injuries”. This means that enforcing authorities must be specifically notified when these injuries occur.
The HSE may then prosecute a company that has negligently failed to protect an injured worker. A decision to prosecute, whether or not it results in a successful conviction, is strong evidence in favour of a compensation claim.
You may be able to claim compensation for an amputation injury regardless of whether the HSE has taken formal action.
Amputation following a road traffic accident
Whether involving a pedestrian, cyclist, passenger or driver, road accidents frequently result in very serious and life-changing injuries. Over 24,000 people were seriously injured on Britain's roads last year.
If you have sustained an amputation injury as the result of a road accident, you may have grounds for a claim.
It is also possible to make a road accident compensation claim even if you were partly responsible for the accident.
Compensation may be reduced by 25% or 50%, for example, to reflect the degree to which you were responsible for the accident or for your injuries. For minor injuries, this reduction may make it less “worth it” to make a claim, but a life-changing injury can require years of support services and physiotherapy, and you may be unable to work for a period of time.
Even with a 25% reduction, a compensation award for an amputation injury could still result in damages in excess of £100,000.
The critical point is that even if you feel you are partly responsible for the injury, you should still speak to a solicitor.
Amputation as a result of medical negligence
Amputation injuries resulting from clinical negligence are rare, however, the consequences of a medical mistake can be as life-changing as any severe accident. Seriously delayed treatment and misdiagnosis are more common errors that may ultimately require surgical amputation, with wrong site surgery cases being much less common.
Sometimes misdiagnosis of an injury to the leg may eventually lead to amputation.
For example, a break to both tibia and fibula may not be noticed on X-ray and therefore not treated. Where only one bone heals, further complications may arise, possibly requiring further surgery. Repeated intervention may prevent the bone healing properly and amputation may be the best option to prevent persistent severe pain.
As another example, a medical professional failing to promptly diagnose and treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD), leading to an amputation being necessary, may also be found to be negligent.
Diabetes-related amputation claims
Complications of diabetes have led to as many as 135 foot amputations every week (Diabetes UK).
Nerve damage means that diabetics may not always feel small cuts, which may become infected. Diabetes may also reduce blood circulation resulting in slow-healing ulcers, which if unnoticed may become infected. In the worst cases, gangrene may develop, leading to amputation of the foot.
Early intervention may prevent problems developing, therefore all diabetics should have a thorough annual foot check. Diabetic patients should be instructed in caring for their feet and advised of the urgency of getting treatment if their feet deteriorate. If a patient has not received this care then he may have a case for medical negligence.
Traumatic amputation is the term used to describe circumstances where an amputation occurred directly as the result of an accident. Work accidents involving heavy machinery and serious road accidents causing crush injuries may result in a traumatic amputation.
Unexpected, traumatic amputations can involve more physical and emotional strain than a planned-for surgical amputation, and this additional pain and suffering may be taken into account when calculating a higher total compensation award.
Surgical amputation describes cases where a serious accident ultimately requires an amputation after other treatment has been unsuccessful, or where other illness or injury has led to an amputation being necessary.
Most surgical amputations are carried out on people with severely reduced blood circulation in the legs or feet as a result of PAD or through complications of diabetes.
Surgical amputation may also be necessary if part of the body has been badly injured in an accident, or there is a serious infection which cannot be treated otherwise. Less commonly, surgical amputation may be recommended where cancer is affecting the skin or bone of a limb.
Illnesses and medical conditions are not often cause for a claim in and of themselves, but if misdiagnosis has lead to the condition not being treated appropriately at an earlier stage, it may be possible to claim compensation for the harm caused by the delay.
Recovery is often more straightforward following surgical amputation, relative to traumatic injury, but will still require a range of long-term, specialist support.
Probably the most common question asked by potential claimants is "How much compensation will I receive for an amputation?" Given the wide-ranging circumstances and severity of injuries sustained, this is a particularly difficult question to answer.
Awards for the claimant's 'general damages' (pain, suffering and loss of amenity, or PSLA) are set out by the Judicial College (formerly known as the Judicial Studies Board) in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
These awards are calculated in relation to the nature and severity of an injury and are set out in the form of minimum and maximum amounts for a given injury.
Although the JSB Guidelines are not 'law' per se, their use is widely adopted in Court and almost all insurers and lawyers refer to these guidelines when assessing compensation for a medical negligence.
The guidelines for general damages compensation are set out in the table below:
General Damages Award
Loss of both arms
£211,150 to £263,060
Amputation at the shoulder
Not less than £120,270
£96,150 to £114,810
£84,310 to £96,150
Loss of both hands
£123,310 to 176,660
Loss of one hand/amputation at wrist
£84,310 to 96,150
Finger or thumb amputation
£7,580 to £79,560
Loss of both legs
£211,150 to £247,280
Below-knee amputation of both legs
£176,660 to £236,840
Above-knee amputation of one leg
£91,910 to £120,530
Below-knee amputation of one leg
£85,910 to £116,620
Loss of both feet
Loss of one foot/ankle
£73,630 to £96,150
Loss of reproductive organs/genital amputation (castration or penectomy)
Loss of nose or ear (severe facial scarring)
£26,120 to £85,340
In addition, it is usually possible to claim 'special damages' to compensate the claimant for the cost of medical treatment, loss of earnings and any other expenses incurred. Due to the serious implications of amputation such as the effect it can have on future earnings, special damages can be considerable.
For example, in a recent case handled by Kevin Walker, the Quittance's panel's most experienced amputation claims specialist, a transtibial received in excess of £1.3m in special damages.
Phantom limb pain
Some amputees do not suffer phantom limb pain (PLP), but the pain felt by those people who do is real and can be difficult to diagnose and successfully treat.
PLP is thought to be caused by anomalous signals in the brain and spinal cord, and may require specialist therapy. The cost of this therapy, and of the additional, ongoing pain, should be factored into the calculation of an award.
Loss of amenity
In addition to damages for pain and suffering, and for lost earnings, a compensation award will take into account “loss of amenity”. This refers to the non-financial impact the injury has had on someone's life, taking into account hobbies, social life and family life.
This award for loss of amenity is intended to compensate an injured claimant for losses that are very real, but less obvious than being unable to perform the same job as before. Examples are an amateur road race cyclist no longer being able to ride their bike, or a Sunday league footballer being unable to play.
Your solicitor will assist with gathering evidence in support of the "loss of amenity" aspect of your claim.
Calculating the correct compensation
Given the complexity of calculating the effect such a serious injury will have on a person's life, work and hobbies, and of the cost of ongoing treatment, support and prosthetics, it is very important to receive specialist legal support and advice.
Your solicitor will ensure that the impact of your injury is fully and correctly assessed, and will negotiate a settlement based on this assessment. This ensures that you can focus on your rehabilitation rather than facing the added stress of managing finances in anticipation of the future.
Our online amputation claims calculator will give you a good initial idea of how much compensation you might receive. For a more precise idea we recommend that you call us on 0800 612 7456 for a free consultation.
You may find that your employer, trade union or any other body that you are a member of provides you with 'Before the Event' (BTE) insurance as a benefit. Alternatively you may find that you have legal cover that you purchased as a 'bolt-on' to your home or car insurance.
Solicitor success fees on amputation claims
If you are not covered by BTE insurance, your next best option will most likely be to instruct a solicitor to act for you on a no win, no fee basis.
Typically, a no win no fee solicitor will expect to receive up to 25% of your compensation award if your claim is successful. In practice. most solicitors will ask for the maximum (allowed by the Ministry of Justice) 25% of your compensation by default and negotiation around these fees is not normally entertained.
Quittance's solicitors will discuss success fees with you from the outset. In the case of amputation our solicitors will normally work on a significantly reduced success fee. In certain cases we would not charge any success fees at all.
With Quittance's lower success fees you will ultimately retain substantially more compensation than you would with a firm charging a default 25% success fee.
Should you choose your insurance company's recommended solicitor?
Under European legislation you are free to choose your own personal injury solicitor, even if your insurance company tries to persuade you otherwise.
If you are covered by BTE insurance as part of your car or household policy, then in theory your policy should cover the cost of your legal claim. Your insurer will automatically pass you over to a firm of solicitors they have an agreement with. These are known as 'insurance panel' solicitors.
The panel solicitor may not be the best person to handle your claim. If you are not happy with your insurer's choice of solicitor, you do not have to agree. The Insurance Companies (Legal Expenses Insurance) Regulations 1990 allow you to choose which solicitor will be appointed in respect of any proceedings conducted on your behalf. You are free to switch to a 'freedom of choice' solicitor at any time - even if your insurer is unwilling to pass the claim over to someone else.
By selecting an independent solicitor's firm, you know you are getting independent advice and an accurate assessment of how much compensation your case should be worth.
Given the importance of securing the best possible compensation award, you should ultimately choose a personal injury solicitor with the most experience and best track record in handling amputation claims.
Don't be afraid to shop around and contact several solicitors before choosing the one that is right for you.
For many amputees, the total value of a compensation award itself may be less important than access to physical therapy and support.
Who we work with
Your solicitor will help you make contact with the right specialists to help guide and support you through your rehabilitation. These experts include:
- specialist medical consultants,
- prostheses companies such as Pace Rehabilitation, Dorset Orthopaedic and Ability Matters
- wheelchair providers
- rehabilitation providers
- occupational therapists and physiotherapists, and
- independent financial advisers
We understand that making a claim is just one part of an ongoing rehabilitation process. Quittance's network of solicitors have helped people return to work and active lifestyles.
Through handling your claim, your solicitor will also build a lasting relationship with you and your family. They will provide access to ongoing support as you need it, gaining access to advancements in science and technology, including microprocessor prostheses and PLP therapy.
Will I receive any financial support before the end of the case?
It should be possible to arrange for early part-payment of your compensation, called an “interim payment”. This would be used to fund necessary treatment, physio and trials of possible prosthetics.
It will usually be possible to arrange for an interim payment to be made once the defendant has admitted liability. Insurers must make best endeavours to assist the claimant's recovery, and in some cases where there is an urgent need, it may even be possible to arrange for an interim payment before liability has been formally accepted.
If necessary, your solicitor may also be able to otherwise arrange for short-term financing to support essential treatment while liability is being established.
Will I have to go to court?
The large majority of personal injury claims are settled without going to court. This includes amputation claims where damages of £100,000s may be awarded.
Going to court is rare because insurers are reluctant to incur the significant additional cost of court action, even if there is a chance that they may ultimately win a disputed case.
At an early stage, your solicitor will make you aware of any potential areas of dispute or complexity that may result in the need to go to court. They will work hard to ensure that your case does not require more formal legal action, unless it is necessary to secure you the compensation you need.
How long does an amputation compensation claim take?
Amputation claims can take longer than those for less serious injuries, due to a range of factors. These include the need to test and identify the best prosthetics to use, and to assess the longer-term impact that these prosthetics will have on someone's lifestyle and ability to work.
Your solicitor will work with you to ensure that gathering medical and other evidence proceeds quickly and efficiently. They will undertake settlement negotiations with a view to securing you the correct amount of compensation you need promptly. This will include interim payments as required.
Accidents at work - Claims against your employer
Every year, 600,000* employees are injured in accidents at work. If you have suffered an injury or illness at work, you may able to claim compensation.
Find out if you can claim amputation injury compensation from your employer: Read more about work accident claims
*Source: 2016/17 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report
Road traffic accident claims
Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.
Find out more about claiming amputation injury compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims
*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (gov.uk)
How can Quittance help?
Our highly experienced solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims and will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, call FREE on 0800 488 0618 or click here to arrange a callback.
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The nationwide network of Quittance solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of compensation claim, from less-severe claims to catastrophic injury. Our lawyers are chosen for their winning track record and their professionalism.