Adjusting to Your New Life After a Traumatic Amputation
Over 2 million Americans have lost one or more of their limbs. Diseases such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease and cancer cause the majority of these amputations. However, accidents account for 45% of them. Unfortunately, approximately 185,000 U.S. residents must undergo amputation every year. By definition, amputation means the surgical or traumatic separation of an appendage or limb from your body. Find out how an amputation injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve if you’ve suffered a life-altering accident.
Traumatic Amputation Causes
While any kind of serious accident or injury can result in the necessity of amputation, the most common causes include the following:
- Traffic accidents, especially those involving motorcycles, bicycles or pedestrians
- Workplace accidents, especially if you are a construction or factory worker
- Agricultural and lawn care accidents involving tractors, lawnmowers, etc.
- Firearm, explosion or fireworks accidents
- Electrocution accidents
- Ring traction accidents, where the ring on your finger becomes caught on something and pulls your finger off
- Building and car door accidents
By age group, the breakdown of traumatic amputations per cause are as follows:
- Children: caught between mechanisms or doors (16.3%); machinery accidents (15.6%); motor vehicle accidents (8%); firearm accidents (6.1%); off-road vehicle accidents (6.1%)
- Adults: motor vehicle accidents (43%); industrial accidents (26%); motorcycle accidents (21%); other types of accidents (10%)
- Senior citizens: saw accidents (45%); food processor and other small appliance accidents (32%); caught-between mechanisms, doors (10%); lawnmower accidents (10%); snowblower accidents (3%)
Sobering Amputation Injury Statistics
Obviously, losing a portion of one or more of your limbs is a traumatic event with life-long and life-changing consequences. Statistics associated with traumatic amputations include the fact that nearly 70% of amputation injuries involve the loss of part or all of an upper limb. Partial hand amputation, including the loss of a thumb and one or more fingers, represents the most common form of amputation. This affects upwards of 61,000 U.S. residents each year. Arm amputations represent the second most common amputation type.
The Amputee Coalition of America estimates that over 185,000 lower-limb amputations occur each year. Below-the-knee amputations represent the most common type of lower-limb amputations, and nearly 80% of these are performed on males. Unfortunately, nearly 22% of lower-limb amputation patients must be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days due to one or more complications.
By age group, 60% of all amputations are performed on people between 21 and 64, while only 10% occur on children and youths under the age of 21. Lawnmower accidents account for 600 childhood amputations each year in the U.S. In terms of on-the-job injuries that result in amputation, the manufacturing industry accounts for 57% of all U.S. worker amputations. Approximately 30% of amputation victims experience anxiety or depression.
In terms of health care costs related to amputations, amputees average $509,275 in lifetime health care costs. Private and public insurance companies pay an estimated $12 billion in amputation claims each year. In 2013 alone, U.S. hospital charges for amputation patients totaled $8.7 billion.
Traumatic amputation injury accidents have a mortality rate of approximately 15%. The biggest cause of amputation death is exsanguination. i.e., uncontrolled hemorrhaging. This is where the victim “bleeds out” from his or her wound before emergency medical intervention can take place.
Experts project that the U.S. amputee population will more than double by 2050, resulting in 3.6 million amputees.
Functional and Life Outcomes
It goes without saying that the amount of functionality you will regain after your amputation depends not only on the number of limbs you lost but also on the level at which you lost it or them. In general, amputees who have lost part or all of an arm, especially if it was their dominant arm and hand, report a greater loss of functionality and, therefore, quality of life than amputees whose accidents necessitated a below-knee amputation. A double below-knee amputation or amputation of both legs at any level, however, results in a significantly less amount of functionality.
If you recently underwent a lower-extremity amputation, you can expect to spend several months in a wheelchair while your stump or stumps heal and begin shrinking. Assuming your residual lower limbs are long enough to allow fitting of a prosthesis, you will require significant physical therapy in order to learn how to balance and walk. Unfortunately, even with the advances in prosthesis design, many amputees find it necessary to abandon them after using them for an average of seven years. The most common reasons include: the residual limbs are too short for comfortable prosthesis usage; persistent pain when using the prosthesis; prosthesis is too heavy; and using the prosthesis presents too much of a hassle.
Speaking of pain, the vast majority of amputees, some say as high as 95% of them, report experiencing chronic pain even years after the amputation. This pain can take a variety of forms. This includes, phantom limb pain, i.e., pain in your missing limbs, residual limb pain, contralateral limb pain and back pain
Why You Need an Experienced Amputation Injury Lawyer
Given the fact that you face the possibility of a lifetime of pain and decreased functionality after your amputation, not to mention ongoing medical and rehabilitation expenses, suing the person or entity whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the accident that necessitated your amputation just makes sense. After all, you didn’t ask to become an amputee. The person or entity responsible for your situation should be held accountable for it.
An experienced personal injury attorney knowledgeable in amputation injuries can get you the compensation you deserve, including both economic and noneconomic damages. Your economic damages consist of such things as your medical expenses, both past and future, rehabilitation expenses, both past and future, physical therapy expenses, both past and future, lost wages, both past and future, and your lost earning capacity. Your noneconomic damages consist of such things as your pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, your disability itself and loss of enjoyment of life because of your disability
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
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