Many people take having all their body parts for granted. Most people won’t realize the life-changing impact of losing a body part until it happens to them. Amputations occur for numerous reasons, some of which are related to illness. Others are due to unexpected and catastrophic accidents known as traumatic amputations.
If you or someone you love experienced a traumatic amputation due to someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced California amputation injury lawyer.
GJEL Accident Attorneys specialize in amputation injuries and serious injury cases. We choose to be selective in the cases we accept to ensure we have the time and resources your case requires. We value every client and will give you the personalized attention you deserve. You won’t ever be another case file on a desk when you hire GJEL Accident Attorneys.
Our lawyers have over 30 years of experience, and we’ve successfully recovered millions of dollars from amputation injuries for our clients. We are skilled litigators, and we aren’t afraid to take a case all the way to trial when necessary. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
What Is Considered an Amputation Injury?
An amputation refers to a partial or complete body part that is detached from the body. In some cases, doctors can reattach a completely severed limb right away, and the victim may only suffer a limited loss of use. Reattaching a severed digit or limb is a complicated process, but it can be done if the severed body part is appropriately cared for and immediately reattached.
Partial amputations are where the soft tissue remains attached. However, this doesn’t mean that reattaching the partially severed body part is any easier. In fact, surgical amputation may still be necessary.
Serious complications can arise with amputation injuries, whether it’s a partial or complete amputation. Potential complications include infection, excessive bleeding, permanent nerve damage, and more. Other long-term complications to consider include a victim’s negative psychological and emotional effects.
Common Causes of Amputation Injuries
A wide variety of incidents and accidents can lead to an amputation injury. Some of the more common causes of traumatic amputations include:
- Car accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Bicycle or pedestrian accidents;
- Medical malpractice;
- Dog bites;
- Slip and fall injuries;
- Construction site accidents;
- Other workplace accidents;
- Defective products;
- Burn injuries;
- Lawnmower accidents;
- Improvised explosive devices (IEDs);
- Other explosives or fireworks; and
- Sporting accidents.
Negligent parties must be held accountable when they are responsible for an amputation injury, regardless of whether it’s a finger, toe, hand, foot, etc. It’s not uncommon to have more than one responsible party in severe injury claims, such as an amputation.
Common Areas of Amputations
Amputations can occur to any of the body’s extremities and limbs, whether it’s the lower or upper part of the body. They are typically divided into two main categories—upper extremity and lower extremity amputations.
Upper Extremity Amputation
An upper extremity or upper limb amputation involves the fingers, hands, or arms. Some examples of upper extremity amputations include, but are not limited to:
- Digit amputation—amputation (in whole or in part) of one or more fingers or a thumb;
- Metacarpal amputation—amputation of a hand, but the wrist is still attached;
- Transradial amputation—amputation of a portion of the arm, below the elbow joint;
- Transhumeral amputation—amputation above the elbow joint; and
- Shoulder disarticulation—amputation of the entire arm at the shoulder, with the cut going through the shoulder itself.
Depending on the level of amputation, the victim may or may not choose to be fitted for a prosthetic. Provisional prosthetic fittings usually take place within 30 days of surgery.
Lower Extremity Amputations
These amputations involve the toes, feet, or legs. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Digit amputation—these amputations can affect either the toes or the fingers;
- Partial foot amputation—amputation where a portion of the foot is removed;
- Transtibial amputation—amputation below the knee but above the foot, which preserves the victim’s use of their knee; and
- Transfemoral amputation—amputation above the knee and below the hip, cutting through the thigh bone.
In some cases, it is necessary to amputate the entire leg through the hip or up into the pelvic area. An amputation occurring that high is rare but can involve a portion of the pelvis and a whole leg. Sometimes doctors can do an internal pelvic amputation, which means the leg is saved.
According to the Amputee Coalition, there are almost two million people in the United States currently living with limb loss. Approximately 185,000 new amputations occur each year. The most common cause of amputation is a vascular disease (54%), including peripheral arterial disease and diabetes. Trauma is the second most common reason for amputation (45%), followed by cancer, which accounts for less than 2%.
Determining the Value of an Amputation Injury
Understandably, prospective clients want to know what their case is worth. But every amputation injury case is different. No two cases, even those with similar circumstances, will resolve for the same exact amount. The best way to determine your potential case value is to speak with an experienced California amputation injury attorney.
When you hire GJEL Accident Attorneys, we will sit down with you and go over all the facts of your case. Once we have a clear picture of your case, we can properly evaluate your losses and let you know what we feel your case is worth. Factors that will impact your case value include the following items.
Amputations typically require extensive medical treatment. This may include emergency room visits, one or more surgeries, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, rehabilitation, prosthetics, home health care, and more. Future expected costs will also be factored into our value if you require additional surgeries or other treatments.
Many people with amputation injuries miss a significant amount of time from work. You may have an extended recovery period at home, or your injuries may prohibit you from doing your usual job. If you are unable to return to your job for the foreseeable future, we will calculate your future loss of earnings as well.
Pain and Suffering
Victims of amputations experience significant physical pain and suffering. Emotional trauma is also part of these damages. It’s hard to quantify the physical and emotional trauma of losing a body part, which is why amputation settlements are often high. You may also have damages related to loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium.
Permanent Disability and Disfigurement
Amputations are permanent, resulting in some level of impairment and physical disfigurement. Victims deserve to be compensated for the disability and disfigurement they must live with for the rest of their lives.
Comparative Liability in California
Injury victims often want to know whether it is worth filing a claim if they might be partially at fault for the accident. California is what is known as a pure comparative negligence state when it comes to liability. This law means that even if you are the primary cause of the accident, you can still collect a portion of your damages.
For instance, if a jury finds you 25% at fault for the accident, you could collect up to 75% of your damages. If the jury finds you 60% at fault, you could collect 40% of your damages. What you need to remember, though, is that the defendant can then recover a portion of their damages from your insurance company too.
Because the defendant’s exposure is directly tied to their percentage of liability, you can expect their insurance company to place as much blame on you as possible. The claims adjuster will look for any inconsistencies in your version of the events, hoping they can get you to admit fault.
When you retain GJEL Accident Attorneys for your amputation injury, we will vigorously defend your rights and ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable.
Statute of Limitations for Amputation Injuries in California
Like other types of claims, California has established a strict filing deadline for amputation injuries. You are bound by this deadline; otherwise, the court will likely dismiss your case entirely. In California, the personal injury statute of limitations is typically two years. That means you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in the proper court. However, some situations could alter the deadline. For example, claims against a government agency are much shorter, typically six months. Medical malpractice claims may also be subject to different statute of limitations deadlines.
Suppose you are in the midst of negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company when the deadline passes. In that case, they are under no legal obligation to continue settlement talks if you cannot show you filed a lawsuit on time. It does not matter if the claims representative offered you money and you had not yet accepted. You cannot come back after the deadline and agree to take the settlement offer without proof of filing a lawsuit within the deadline. Missing the statute of limitations could literally cost you your entire case.
Do You Have to Hire an Amputation Injury Attorney?
There is no legal requirement that says you need to hire a California amputation lawyer, but we highly recommend that you do. These are very complicated cases, and your potential settlement is directly linked to the skill of the law firm you retain.
Our priority is to get you the maximum compensation possible. We understand the ongoing expenses you will have with an amputation case. You need access to the vital resources necessary for your recovery, including rehabilitation, prosthetic evaluation, possible reconstructive surgery, vocational retraining, and more. Because we have years of experience representing clients for amputation injuries, we routinely work with an excellent network of specialists who can help with everything from custom wheelchairs to home and vehicle modifications.
When you retain GJEL Accident Attorneys, we will conduct a thorough independent investigation. We may need to hire multiple experts, such as accident recinstructionists, medical doctors, life care planners, vocational rehabilitation experts, mental health experts, economic experts, etc. Some experts may only consult on your case, while others may need to testify if your case proceeds into litigation. The quality of your experts is crucial, especially in litigation.
Your attorney will also be responsible for all communications with the defendant’s insurance company and attorney. You don’t have years of experience negotiating accident claims, which is what the defendants are counting on. They may try to get you to resolve your case early on for a figure that is far less than your case is worth. By doing so, you will sign a release of all claims. That release bars you from any further recovery should you find out you need additional surgery or have other related costs later on down the road.
Retaining an attorney will also alleviate any issues surrounding the statute of limitations. Your attorney will know when the applicable filing deadline is, and act to ensure that your case is preserved. Even though a lawsuit is filed, it doesn’t mean earlier settlement talks will cease. The lawsuit merely preserves your legal right to continue the case in the court system if you cannot reach an amicable settlement out of court.
Contact Our California Amputation Injury Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love suffered an amputation injury caused by another party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions, you deserve to be compensated for your injury. Don’t attempt to handle your case independently. Let the legal team at GJEL Accident Attorneys put our expertise and skills to work for you. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.
We understand what a traumatic and scary time this is for you and your family. Let us help you navigate the legal challenges while you focus on your recovery. We will work tirelessly to help you recover the maximum compensation possible for your amputation injury. Please speak with one of our skilled California amputation injury lawyers right away to learn more about how we can help.