Amputation Injury Claims
Catastrophic Injury and Wrongful Death Representation
Amputation occurs when a limb or extremity is removed, either due to physical trauma or surgery. Almost 2 million Americans are currently living without one of their limbs. Nearly 185,000 amputations are conducted annually, many as a result of injury, disease, and infection.
When amputation is the result of an accident, the experience is certainly life-altering. Those who lose a limb from the negligent acts of another party may be entitled to significant financial compensation according to North Carolina law.
What Causes Amputation?
There are many other reasons why an amputation may be needed, including:
- Severe injury in automobile accidents or work accidents
- The presence of a cancerous tumor
- Severe infection that is untreatable with antibiotics
- A pinched nerve or thickening of nerve tissue (neuroma)
- Complications associated with diabetes
- Severe frostbite
- Severe burns
Inadequate circulation in an extremity due to constricted arteries can also necessitate amputation. These are common in “crush” injuries. The lack of blood flow prevents the limb from receiving sufficient nutrients and oxygen, causing deterioration of tissues and infection. If the damage is too widespread, medical providers must remove the limb before the infection spreads.
The most common type of amputation involves the leg, severing it either above or below the knee. Patients may then receive an artificial leg to allow for mobility. Medical expenses for a leg amputation are an estimated $110,000 for a two-year period. Amputation is certainly a “last-resort” effort for the improvement of a patient’s quality of life.
Surgery to Remove a Limb
Those who undergo an amputation can expect to spend several days in the hospital depending on any complications. Either a general anesthetic or spinal anesthetic will be used for the procedure. The surgeon will remove damaged tissue, and the area may be closed or left open for the removal of more tissue in a subsequent procedure. A sterile dressing is needed, as well as tubes to drain fluid. It may be necessary to stabilize the site using traction or a splint.
Following the surgery, the patient is transitioned to therapy to promote strength and flexibility. The wound itself may take roughly six weeks to heal; however, the emotional toll of losing a limb will continue. Initially, a temporary artificial limb may be used, which is replaced with a permanent device several months later.
As amputees seek to regain a level of independence, they may rely heavily on family and friends for support. Amputees are likely to face significant financial challenges as a result of medical expenses and aspects of recovery, including:
- Wound care to prevent infection
- Prosthetics and mobility products
- Necessary home and vehicle modifications
- Retraining for an different occupation
- Wage losses
- Therapy to adjust to lifestyle changes
Sometimes, those who have undergone an amputation may be unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. NC’s Division of Motor Vehicles has a division that makes these determinations based on individual driver assessment, in response to concerns from a medical provider, family member, or someone else. The organization may assign the driver a conditional license for driving.
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