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1. The true losses suffered in a Car Accident are often under-estimated.2. Who can claim motor vehicle injury compensation?3. What can you claim for as part of motor vehicle injury compensation?4. What are the most common road and car accident injuries?

An accident where amputation is involved is serious, and may be very traumatic and difficult for both you and your loved ones.

Amputation accidents can happen in the workplace due to a range of causes, for example machinery faults or lapses in concentration, and they may also occur due to road accidents or medical negligence.

If you have had loss of a limb or body part amputated due to an accident which was caused by someone else’s negligence then you may be able to claim compensation for your loss. Our law firm has experts in amputation compensation and can help with no win no fee negligence claims.

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Common amputations

Some of the more common types of amputations are injuries involving the fingers, hands, and arms. We use our hands to use machinery and tools, and it is often the case that a worker will suffer an injury due to improper guards or safety mechanisms put in place. For example, a worker recently suffered a partially amputated thumb when unloading a shipping container due to improper training. Other common amputation injuries include:

  • Amputated leg - as can happen in road accidents when passengers are crushed due to the impact of a road accident - resulting in either full leg (hip disarticulation), above the knee (trans-femoral amputation), knee (knee disarticulation), below-knee (trans-tibial amputation), ankle (ankle disarticulation) or partial foot amputation.
  • Amputated arm - workplace accidents or road accidents can result in full arm (shoulder disarticulation), or partial arm amputation from the elbow (elbow disarticulation), below-elbow (trans-radial disarticulation) or wrist (wrist disarticulation) amputation. 
  • Finger amputation - a relatively common workplace amputation injury which can result from crush injuries, accidents with tools and saws, or burning or degloving injuries.
  • Toe Amputation - this is often amputation as a result of crush injuries where the foot is impacted by heavy materials, or through accidents and injuries
  • Hand amputation - a hand amputation may result from a crush injury or an accident on the road or in the workplace
  • Syme amputation - an amputation where the foot is removed but the heel pad itself is saved, so that a person may put weight on the leg

Amputation due to work injuries

Workplace injuries involving amputation remain a fairly constant proportion of all serious workplace-related injury and disease claims, with claims relating to wounds, lacerations, amputation and internal organ damage making up 15% of all claims in 2019 and 14% of all claims in 2020.

At-risk professions

The professions most at-risk of making a serious claim for an amputation are, unsurprisingly, those workers who are exposed to high-risk environments. In 2018-19, the following professions made a large proportion of serious claims:

  • Labourers
  • Technicians and trades workers
  • Machinery operators and drivers

While the exact statistics of the claims relating to the type of injury are not provided, it is unfortunately all too common for tradespeople to suffer injuries resulting in amputation due to workplace accidents. 

Workplace amputations resulting from accidents can include:

  • Drill and saw accidents at work resulting in the loss of fingertips or fingers
  • Abattoir worker accidents with knives and saws resulting loss of hands or limbs
  • Tradespeople and workers being involved in crush accidents where fingers or limbs are trapped
  • Agricultural accidents including lawnmowers and trimming materials
  • Building and car door accidents where doors slam on hands or fingers
  • Factory and construction accidents at work where limbs are trapped in pinch points

Common causes of workplace loss of limb injuries

There are a number of ways in which an amputation accident can happen, including through failing to take proper care. In some cases, however, your employer may not have provided a safe place of work - in that there was a failure to provide the correct protective equipment. Employer negligence may include:

  • Failing to provide the appropriate training for a task or machine
  • Incorrect personal protective equipment
  • Incorrect machinery guards or protective machinery
  • Not repairing or maintaining equipment
  • Inadequate supervision for a task

If your employer is found to be negligent in their duty to provide a safe place of work, you may be able to make an application for compensation for any amputation injury suffered.

Amputations due to car and road accidents

Traffic accidents are often incredibly traumatic and can result in amputation due to crush injuries or the force of impact.

Common road and car accident amputations

Some of the common amputation injuries resulting from a road and car accident can include:

  • Leg or partial leg amputation due to crushing against the steering column or passenger-side footwell upon impact with another vehicle or solid object
  • Arm amputation due to crushing in a vehicle rollover
  • Hand amputation or partial hand amputation resulting from a crush injury

Amputations due to medical negligence

Medical causes of amputation include disease and illness. If you have had a limb or body part amputated as a result of misdiagnosis or a failure to act in accordance with good medical practice, then you may be able to claim compensation for your loss.

Possible causes of amputation due to medical negligence

While amputation due to medical negligence is rare, it does happen. Some of the most common reasons for amputation due to medical negligence include:

  • Misdiagnosis leading to delay in required treatment
  • Failure to treat blood clots after surgery
  • Infection caused by surgical equipment being left in patient’s body
  • Incorrect medication
  • Surgical mistake such as amputating the wrong limb

If you have had a limb amputated as a result of someone else’s negligence then you may be able to claim compensation. Our personal injury claims lawyers are experienced in working with people who have suffered as a result of possible medical negligence, and can help you to secure a claim for the appropriate amount of compensation in your matter.

How much compensation for a loss of limb?

Losing a limb is a significant event, and will result in a change in your life - especially if you have lost a partial limb or full limb due to an accident. A loss of limb will impact on your ability to earn an income, and will likely result in you requiring greater care and help in living your life.

As a result of the large impact that an amputation injury can have, a claim for compensation will often be substantial.

Calculating a claim for compensation requires a few key steps:

  1. Identifying that another party has been negligent. This may be the driver of another vehicle, your employer, or a doctor or surgeon.
    1. To identify negligence, there must first be a duty of care owed between the two parties (workplace, road users, and medical matters are all what is known as ‘established’ duties of care which means that this will generally always be established.
    2. There must be a breach of the duty of care, in that the other party has failed to do something that they should have done, such as provide a safe workplace, or not drive while intoxicated.
    3. There must be damage, and in this case it will be the amputation and injuries as a result of the breach of the duty of care.
  2. Once negligence has been established, your personal injury lawyer will go through the process of identifying how this injury has impacted, and will impact, on your life.
    1. You will need extensive medical records and statements identifying the treatment, care, pain and suffering, and potential future care or treatment that will arise as a result of your amputation
    2. An assessment will be made of how your amputation impacts on your life and ability to enjoy your life — such as the impact earnings including your future potential loss of earnings as well as impact on relationships, sports, lifestyle and leisure activities
    3. Your earning capacity and potential will be assessed and a figure will be reached calculating how your amputation has affected your earning capacity and total loss of income 
  3. You may need ongoing treatment and care, as well as home modifications — and these will also be assessed and included in any calculation for compensation.

A claim for compensation looks at your life after amputation, and how your life was going to go prior to amputation, and comes up with a financial figure which aims to cover all costs and potential costs associated with your loss.

Example:

Gracie has recently graduated high school and takes up a position working with a carpenter as an apprentice when she is 18. She has been working with her employer for six months and has plans to start her own business when she completes her training.

One day at work she is improperly supervised and has an accident where she loses three fingers on her hand while using a band saw. As a result, Gracie is no longer able to pursue a career as a carpenter due to her loss of fingers. After surgery and recovering, she eventually finds work in a factory operating a press.

Gracie would be able to claim compensation for her loss in earnings, and loss of potential earnings (the difference between her estimated salary as a business owner, compared to that of a factory press operator) as well as for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment in her life.

Example:

Devon works in the mines in North Queensland and is heading to his shift from camp one day when the work vehicle he is travelling in blows a tyre, due to a faulty maintenance schedule, and rolls over several times. His arm is badly injured as a result of being pinned between some seats and, despite emergency surgery, he has to have his arm amputated above the elbow.

Devon is unable to continue his employment and has to retrain, but he suffers depression as a result of his accident and finds it hard to secure work.

Devon would be able to claim for compensation due to his accident, and would likely secure a significant payment due to the loss of his salary.

Time limits for amputation claims

There are time limits which apply when making an amputation compensation claim, in that you must commence your claim for compensation within three years of suffering the injury. There are some situations in which this time limit can be extended[4] , but it is best if you commence your claim as soon as you are able to, so that you are well within the limitation period.

  • You may well be living with some emotional trauma from your accident, and be suffering in terms of your quality of life.
  • However, it is vital that, given the nature of your accident, you commence your claim as soon as possible.
  • You want to ensure you receive appropriate financial compensation for your loss quickly — as a claim for compensation can sometimes take a year (or more) to fully assess and determine.

While a claim for compensation will not heal the trauma, financial payment for your pain, suffering and treatment can go some way towards getting you back on track after you have suffered an amputation. Our specialist teams of injury solicitors can help you prepare your case to ensure you receive the maximum benefit possible as appropriate for your injury.

Posted by Sarah Truter Solicitor

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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