According to recent statistics, the number of amputees in this country is going up... and will go up even more in the future. Currently, there are roughly 2.1 million people nationwide who have lost limbs, but that number is projected to nearly double to 3.6 million by 2050.
Traumatic amputation can occur in any accident. It is most commonly caused by power tools, motorcycle crashes, rollover accidents, and heavy farming machines. It can result from crushing, severing, or avulsion. Limb loss may also be the result of an extreme (third- and/or fourth-degree) burn injury.
Many of these accidents occur in the workplace, especially workplaces that use heavy equipment. A few years ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data that showed that, in 2017, roughly 1 in every 20,000 workers had endured a work-related amputation. For some industries, though, the number was much higher... and some of those industries have major presences in Oregon. The statistics revealed that agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, which are major sources of employment in this state, reported amputations at nearly triple the average (2.8 per 20,000 workers.) Manufacturing was the highest, at 4.2 per 20,000 workers.
These injuries often generate large medical bills, which is one reason why proper action through the legal system is so important. There likely was a great deal of medical treatment right after the injury happened, and the injury will require extensive medical care in the future. In cases where the accident damaged the limb beyond repair but did not sever it, surgery (possibly emergency surgery) to remove the damaged limb is inevitably involved.
These injuries also frequently trigger an extended stay in the hospital. Even after release from the hospital, an amputee will face enormous hours of physical and occupational therapy, expensive artificial limbs or prosthetic appliances, and more surgeries in the future. According to a study the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy released in 2007, the average lifetime cost of medical care for a person who underwent amputation was more than $509,000. (One can imagine that, in the intervening years, that number has gone up significantly.)
Those are undeniably large figures, but the legal system allows people who've lost limbs to recover substantial compensation through the civil litigation process.
If the amputation or limb-loss accident was the result of someone else's negligence, skilled legal representation is a must. That's especially true if the accident occurred at work. The law of workers' compensation often limits the amount of recovery one can receive through the workers' compensation system, meaning that workers' comp will not provide a full recovery.
However, proper legal counsel may be able to help. With in-depth investigation, one may discover that others beyond the employer were potentially at fault. Perhaps the injury occurred because a machine or piece of equipment failed to function properly or there were inadequate safeguards or warnings. Perhaps someone not under the control of the employer engaged in negligence that contributed to the injury. A scenario like any or all of those could permit a claim against that third party in civil court, which would enhance the ability to get a better, more reasonable outcome.
Even if the accident wasn't a workplace one, getting experienced legal counsel right away is essential. In the case of limb loss in an auto accident, prompt retention of counsel is crucial, so that an attorney can begin investigating and preserving proof like crash-scene evidence. This evidence can be integral to establishing both liability and the extent of the harm suffered.
Matthew D. Kaplan is an Oregon amputation injury attorney that will help obtain a just result for not only medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, but also future long-term future medical bills that can include psychological therapy, prosthetics, long-term rehabilitation, and physical therapy, as well as past and future lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and accommodations to one's home.
If You or a Loved One Has Suffered an Amputation as a Result of Another's Negligent Conduct, Please contact our office for a Free Consultation.