Approximately 2 million people in the U.S. are living with limb loss and 185,000 new amputations occur annually, according to the Amputee Coalition.
Classified as either “complete” or “incomplete,” amputations involve all or part of one’s foot, leg, hand or arm. It’s also estimated that as many as 1 in 200 people has suffered the loss of fingers and toes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 500 Americans lose a limb each day.
These injuries are frequently the result of auto accidents, construction site mishaps, dog bites, dangerous products or defective medications and even medical malpractice (including birth injuries and failure to prevent infection). These are known as “trauma-related amputations,” and are the second most common type, behind amputations related to various types of vascular diseases.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our Fort Lauderdale amputation lawyers are dedicated to fighting for just compensation for amputation victims. We recognize that beyond the clear physical and psychological pain of an amputation, there are practical concerns about how to pay for medical bills, particularly when one is forced out-of-work and future income is in question. Their own financial stability as well as that of their family may be in limbo.
Even seemingly “minor” amputations, such as the loss of fingers or toes, can result in serious impediments to basic life tasks, such as using a keyboard or walking. These can be greatly detrimental to one’s life and livelihood.
In some situations, it may be necessary for the victim to obtain a prosthesis, though these devices are expensive, require ongoing evaluation and many not fully restore function.
The first step is determining whether one or multiple other parties were at-fault for what happened. This involves extensive investigation and analysis.Amputation Liability
Fault will be established based on the individual facts of each case. In cases where a person or company’s negligence, victims have a right to pursue damages to help cover:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Projected Income Loss
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium
Identifying possible defendants is sometimes a straightforward process, but it can be more complex, depending on the circumstances. Some possible liable parties include:
- The driver of a vehicle;
- The owner of the vehicle;
- A trucking company;
- Owner of freight haul on a tractor-trailer;
- A restaurant, bar or nightclub owner that sells alcohol;
- Owner of a property where the injury occurred;
- Construction company;
- Maker of a defective product;
- Drug manufacturer;
- Dog owner;
- Doctor, hospital or other health care professional;
- Individual who committed a violent assault resulting in necessity of amputation.
These are a few examples, but there could be other defendants, depending on what happened. Usually, these individuals don’t personally have enough financial resources to cover the extensive losses suffered by amputation victims. That’s why in most cases, it will be the insurance company that ultimately pays.
Insurance companies are contractually obligated to pay damages when their insured is found liable for a person’s amputation injuries. However, don’t expect an easy road. Most insurance companies mount vigorous defense in these cases because they know how much is at stake for them. It’s one of the reasons we urge anyone who has recently undergone an amputation to refrain from discussions with any insurance company without first receiving counsel from an experienced injury attorney.Trauma-Related Amputations
There are four main types of amputations:
- Dysvascular-related amputations
- Trauma-related amputations
- Cancer-related amputations
- Congenital-related amputations
Most of the cases we take on are trauma-related amputations, though there are incidents in which the other types may be legally actionable, particularly when negligence on the part of a doctor, hospital or other health care provider played a role.
In situations where trauma-related amputations are the result of a workplace accident, it’s likely workers’ compensation benefits are available. The schedule of benefits for job-related amputations are spelled out in F.S. 440.15, Florida’s Workers’ Compensation statute. Under this provision, workers may be considered “permanently and totally disabled” if a worker suffers amputation of an arm, hand, foot or leg involving loss of effective use of that appendage.
Although a person collecting workers’ compensation insurance for an amputation in Florida won’t be able to sue his or her employer, there is a chance of a third-party lawsuit in cases where another individual or entity was negligent in causing the accident.
So for example a delivery driver who must undergo an amputation as a result of a violent crash with a truck driver may collect workers’ compensation benefits from the employer’s insurance carrier, but may also pursue legal action against the trucking company and the other driver.
For information on legal action following a catastrophic injury in Fort Lauderdale, contact The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.