An amputation injury is one of the most catastrophic injuries you can suffer. Losing a body part, even as small as a fingertip, can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health. You will suffer permanent disability and mental anguish from dismemberment or disfigurement.
Amputation injuries can result from almost any accident that severely damages your bones, muscles, nerves, or blood vessels. Fortunately, you can pursue personal injury compensation when your amputation injury happens because of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions.
What Is the Structure of Your Limbs?
Bones sit at the center of your limbs and provide structure to them. The rigidity of your bones comes from a matrix of minerals like calcium and phosphorus that are inside them. This matrix is strong and light because it has openings and passages for blood vessels.
Ligaments hold your bones together. These soft tissues have strong, elastic fibers that connect your bones and guide the movement of your joints.
Muscles move your body. They connect to your bones through tendons. The muscles and tendons use your bones for leverage to hold your body and move it. Your nervous system controls the contraction and relaxation of your muscles through peripheral nerves that connect your brain to your muscles.
All the cells in your muscles, bones, and connective tissues are alive. They use oxygen and nutrients to grow, replicate, and self-repair. Blood cells carry oxygen to every cell in your body by picking up oxygen in your lungs.
The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your body. As it reaches your cells, the blood cells release oxygen molecules and pick up carbon dioxide molecules. The heart pumps oxygen-depleted blood back to the lungs, where the cells give up the carbon dioxide molecules and pick up more oxygen.
What Types of Amputation Injuries Can Occur?
Most amputations in the United States result from diseases like diabetes, cancer, and vascular disease. Since the U.S. has an advanced medical system and no current wars, trauma only causes about 32% of amputations.
Amputation injuries take two forms: traumatic and surgical.
Traumatic amputation happens when an accident separates your limb from your body. For example, a construction accident involving a power saw could sever a finger from your hand. Similarly, a dog could tear your ear off during a dog bite attack.
In some situations, doctors can reattach or “replant” a severed body part. But this surgery requires a lot of detailed work to reconnect the nerves and blood vessels.
More importantly, the surgery might not succeed if the severed body part was:
- Without blood flow for several hours before you could reach a hospital
- Contaminated with dirt or chemicals
- Mangled or torn
If your doctor feels like the reattachment procedure will not succeed, they may recommend skipping it. Instead, they may simply form a clean stump so that you can get fitted for a prosthetic.
Surgical amputation happens when your tissues get damaged so badly that doctors recommend amputating them instead of risking your life. Damaged cells will die, decay, and develop gangrene. Gangrenous tissue can make you sick or even kill you. Doctors must make the hard decision to amputate your limb to save your life.
A surgical amputation starts with the doctor identifying where the healthy tissue ends and the damaged tissue starts. They will plan the location of the amputation to preserve as much tissue as possible while still removing all the damaged tissue.
The doctor will cut through soft tissues while tying off the blood vessels and nerves. They will also saw through the bone. Your bones will bleed because blood vessels run through them. Doctors will seal the blood vessels to control the bleeding.
Your doctor will shape the surface of the bone to remove any sharp edges and form a stump that can receive a prosthetic device. The doctor may close the amputation site or leave it open in case they need to remove additional tissue. After the amputation site heals, you can get fitted for a prosthetic.
What Are Some Reasons for Surgical Amputations?
Surgical amputations happen for a few reasons, including:
- Nerve damage
- Shattered bones
- Vascular damage
The most common cause of amputations is vascular damage. When your blood vessels get severely damaged, doctors cannot graft them before you bleed to death or the tissue dies. As a result, they have no option except amputation.
What Complications Can Result from Amputation Injuries?
Amputation injuries are susceptible to many complications, including:
Phantom pain is a common complication after an amputation. As many as 80% of amputees experience phantom pain.
This phenomenon appears to originate in the missing limb and can include:
Phantom pain happens because the brain has not updated its map of the body. It tries to control the missing body part by sending sensations to the terminated nerves. When nothing happens, the brain keeps sending signals. These signals stress your stump and produce painful sensations.
Depression and Anxiety
The grief you experience after the loss of your limb can trigger depression and anxiety.
Roughly 30% of amputees feel symptoms of depression after losing a limb, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Fear of the future
- Overwhelming sorrow
- Anxiety about social ostracism
You may need counseling or therapy to overcome your depression and anxiety. Therapy can help you through the grieving process for your lost limb so that you can accept your loss.
How Can You Get Compensation for Amputation Injuries?
When you get injured in a preventable accident, you can pursue personal injury compensation. The most common way to prove that an accident was preventable is by showing that someone else’s actions caused the accident. For example, if you lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to pursue a claim against the driver who hit you.
When you establish liability, you can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages. These losses can include your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Amputation injuries could justify significant compensation due to permanent disabilities, pain, and suffering. To discuss your amputation injuries and the compensation you can get for them, contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek for your broken bones.
Call us at (813) 223-6200 or contact our personal injury law firm in Tampa, FL to schedule a free consultation.
We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.