Claims for compensation after amputation or loss of limbs

 

Losing an arm or losing a leg is life-changing.  The same is true for losing a hand, foot, fingers, or toes.

Not only does the victim suffer horrendous pain and loss of function, financial losses are also incurred. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the things which can and should be included in a claim to ensure that the compensation received maximises the claimant’s ability to return to as normal a life as possible.

Some of the items which can be claimed are less obvious, so it is essential that the claimant seeks advice from a lawyer who is experienced in claims arising out of loss of limbs (either through direct trauma or as a result of amputation surgery after that trauma). Sometimes the need for amputation only becomes certain months, or occasionally years, after the original trauma. That time delay does not prevent a claim being made against the person who caused the initial injury, though it is important to act quickly because the time for bringing a claim is limited.

What compensation can I claim if I have lost a limb in an accident?

The fundamental starting point of any compensation claim is that the law tries to provide a sum of money that will restore the injured claimant’s life back to how it was (or as close as possible). 

After any injury compensation is awarded for the injury itself, this is called “General Damages” and is for “Pain Suffering and Loss of Amenity”. This is assessed by reference to, what is essentially, a tariff. 

Needless to say, different sums apply depending on whether the claimant has lost all or part of the limb and how much function remains. With loss of the arm, hand or fingers, higher awards are made if the injury involved the dominant side. 

Financial losses are collectively known as “Special Damages”. This covers “past losses,” which are losses and expenses that have already been incurred and also “future losses” which have yet to be incurred but will be. 

Examples of special damages include:

  • Loss of earnings
  • The value of care and assistance provided by friends and family
  • Travel expenses
  • Increased living expenses
  • Equipment purchased
  • The cost of home adaptations
  • Increased holiday expenses

The above list is not exhaustive and is deliberately generic because the range of losses which can be claimed is as broad as the individual circumstances of different cases.

Basically, a claim can be made for any loss caused or necessarily incurred as a result of the injury. It is therefore important that potentially claimable losses are identified and discussed with the solicitor dealing with the matter. Identifying all items which can be claimed, and the evidence needed, are key reasons why serious injury claims following amputation/loss of limbs should be handled by a specialist solicitor.

What compensation can I claim if I lose a leg or a foot?

In addition to the losses listed above, the compensation claim submitted on behalf of a lower limb amputee should include some additional and specific items of loss.

The most obvious additional item for the claimant who has lost a leg or foot is the cost of purchasing prosthetic limbs, as well as the future cost of replacing them. Additionally, all the incidental costs of assessments and aftercare need to be claimed. Where the claimant’s lifestyle involves a range of social and sporting activities requiring different prosthetics, all must be included and claimed for. If the claimant’s amenity can be improved using bionic limbs, the costs of them should also be claimed

Additionally, if the lower limb amputee will spend some time using a wheelchair the cost of this also needs to be factored in.

Natural aging and the physical deterioration that goes with it, means that costs of future assessments, therapy, assistance and changed accommodation also need to be included in the claim.

Assembling the evidence of the claimant’s current and future needs, as well as the cost of it, is specialised work. It is inevitable that expert reports will be needed in several specialisms. This is likely to include orthopaedics, rehabilitation, prosthetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, assistive technology, accommodation and others.

What compensation can I claim if I lose an arm, hand or fingers?

Similar principles apply to claimants who have lost an upper limb or part of an upper limb.

Prosthetics and bionics should be costed and included. The loss of an arm, part of a hand or even part of a finger will be damaging to the claimant’s self-confidence, so a claim for the cost of acquiring and replacing cosmetic prosthetics is justifiable. Even the cost of acquiring a cosmetic fingertip is likely to add thousands of pounds to the overall claim. 

Upper limb injuries might cause deterioration to the other limb as a result of overuse. This might impact on the future ability to carry out everyday tasks, leading to other loss and expense which must be accounted for.

Amputation experience within Birchall Blackburn Law

Our serious injury team has decades of experience helping people who have been through traumatic or surgical amputation of a limb as a result of an accident. Our experience means that we understand the immense physical and psychological impact the injury can have. We understand how to prepare a case to get the best possible outcome, which enables our clients to optimise their quality of life after catastrophic injury.

We offer a personal face-to-face service and act for clients on a nationwide basis.

If you wish to discuss a claim for compensation for the loss of a limb or any other injury which has seriously affected you, do not hesitate to contact Robert Jones on 0161 238 4376 / rzjones@birchallblackburn.co.uk. Initial advice is free, confidential and with no obligations.