Amputation involves the removal of a limb, whether through surgery, medical condition, or trauma. In certain cases a limb must be removed in order to mitigate disease or control pain. When a limb must be amputated due to a catastrophic incident involving another party’s negligence or recklessness, the victim likewise suffers a devastating loss. In such cases, the victim may have recourse to recover compensation for the injury and other damages involved.
Common causes of accidental amputations
As stated, surgery or trauma are the reasons for the separation of a limb or appendage (i.e. fingers, toes) from the body. An accidental amputation is a highly traumatic occurrence that is unexpected and devastating.
Each year in the U.S., approximately 30,000 traumatic amputations occur. Most of the victims of these amputations are between the age of 15 and 40. As well, 70 percent of traumatic amputations occur to the upper limbs.
Other than from catastrophic injuries sustained in combat, some of the most common causes for traumatic (accidental) amputations include:
- Workplace accidents (often involving machinery)
- Motor vehicle crashes (often involving trucks or motorcycles)
- Vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents
- Dangerous or defective products (i.e. electric saws, lawn mowers, other power equipment)
- Crushing or caught-in-between injuries
- Agricultural accidents
- Accidental firearm injuries
Types of amputations
Any body part can be involved in an accidental, traumatic amputation. Amputations are categorized as lower or upper (limbs and extremities). Lower limbs and extremities include the feet, toes, ankle, leg, and pelvis. Upper limbs and extremities include the hands, fingers, wrist, forearm, and shoulder.
Both complete and partial (incomplete) amputations can be life-threatening due to the significant loss of blood involved with each type of injury. A complete amputation involves the entire severing of the limb from the body. In a partial amputation, some of the soft tissue of the connection (ligaments, tendons, muscles) remains.
In certain cases, in the aftermath of a catastrophic injury involving amputation, the severed body part may be reattached to the body – referred to as replantation. There are three major forms of amputation – crush, abolishing, and sharp/guillotine. Avulsion and crush amputations often involve major damage to the soft tissues, vascular tissues, arteries, and nerves, making any attempt at reattachment highly problematic. A sharp/guillotine type of amputation involves less damage to the surrounding elements in the area with more clearly defined edges that make reattachment of the limb more feasible.
Aftermath of amputations
Although physical amputations may heal, the area of the amputation is also subject to the risk of certain complications, including blood clots, infections, and phantom pain (occurring when the person feels the body part that is no longer present).
Phantom pain in the aftermath of an amputation can involve sensations such as burning, aching, itching, dryness, wetness, tension, locked in or trapped feeling, or feeling the missing limb moving. In addition, victims can suffer significant emotional effects from an amputation, including helplessness and depression, along with other changes to the person’s social life.
If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a limb in a catastrophic event due to the negligence of another person or entity, get in touch with Merkel & Cocke for the representation you need. We have more than 30 years of experience helping injured clients in Mississippi recover from their losses. With offices in Clarksdale and Jackson, we are always nearby when you need us. To set up a free case evaluation, call us today at 662.799.1633 or complete our contact form.