Amputation compensation claims

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Howard Willis

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A guide to making a No Win No Fee amputation claim

According to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data, around 12,500 amputations were performed in England in 2013/14. Many such surgeries are a consequence of serious accidents, including road traffic accidents and accidents at work including crush injuries.

Medical negligence is a less common cause of amputations but serious clinical negligence can make surgical intervention necessary.

Surgical Amputations

Most surgical amputations are carried out on people with severely reduced blood circulation in the legs or feet as a result of peripheral arterial disease (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.

These medical conditions are not often cause for a claim in 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.

Traumatic injuries

Traumatic amputations are those where part of the body is amputated in road traffic accidents, or accidents involving machinery.

It may be possible to claim compensation for these traumatic accidents depending on the facts of the case.

If a road accident is the result of another driver's negligence and that driver has admitted liability, the claim is likely to succeed. If the amputation occurs as the result of defective work equipment, such as faulty safety guards, strict liability may mean it is not even necessary to demonstrate fault on the part of the manufacturer, only that the defect caused the injury.

Incidents that lead to amputation

Injuries which may necessitate amputation and which may result in a claim for compensation include:

  • Crush injuries to limbs - for example in a road traffic accident.
  • Blast injuries - where there has been an explosion such as in a quarry or where workers handle dangerous substances
  • Avulsion injuries - where a body part becomes trapped in machinery
  • Guillotine injuries - where a limb or part of a limb is cut away from the body, for example by cutting machinery such as chain or band saws.
  • Severe burns - including those caused by chemical spills may damage a body part so severely that it needs to be amputated.

Amputation is usually only considered in cases where there is little chance of saving the injured body part, or where it is thought that amputation may lead to a quicker recovery and a better long-term outcome for the patient.

Can amputations be the result of medical negligence?

Sometimes amputations may be the result of a lack of care by health professionals.

For example, 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 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. They 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.

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.

A medical professional failing to diagnose peripheral arterial disease, which leads to a later amputation, may be found to be negligent.

Can a claim be made if part of the body is amputated in an accident at work?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty on companies and individuals to ensure that precautions are taken to make work as safe as practically possible.

The Act requires that equipment is properly maintained and that guards are in place to prevent employees being injured by work machinery. The Act requires that risks be identified and instructions, procedures, training and supervision be provided so that employees may work safely.

If the measures specified in the 1974 Act and other legislation have not been put in place, an employer may be found negligent and liable for an employees injury.

Starting a no win no fee amputation claim

A no win no fee contract (also referred to as a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement) is entered into between a claimant and a suitably qualified solicitor.

A no win no fee agreement is essentially the terms under which the solicitor works for the claimant.

The contract details what the lawyers will do and how the solicitor is rewarded if your claim is won.

If you instruct Quittance for your amputation claim there will be no hidden or extra costs in the terms and conditions , no up-front fees and the complete peace of mind that you wont be financially out of pocket.

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