Athlete running with one prosthetic leg

Compensation for an amputated or lost limb

Amputation compensation claims

Our specialist injury Solicitors have decades of experience of acting for motorcycle, heavy industry and agricultural worker clients. This has resulted in us developing significant expertise in acting for amputees.

In addition our specialist team of medical negligence Solicitors have a history of representing those who need amputation as a result of negligent medical treatment. This can be as a result of negligent treatment of an injury resulting in infection, vascular conditions, plus delay in diagnosis of an infection including meningitis or a bone tumour for example.

Our team regularly attend specialist amputation rehabilitation courses and host and attend Life After Limb Loss events, and British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine advanced prosthetic and amputee courses.

We represent amputee clients nationwide from our seven offices.

We are proud to have been appointed to the Limb Loss Legal Panel for the South West.

We are supporters of Meningitis Research Foundation and Reach, the charity who help children with upper limb difference live life without limits.

Contents

Types of amputation

These are the main types of amputation:

  • Lower limb amputations including
    • Transtibial amputation (below the knee)
    • Knee disarticulation (through the knee)
    • Transfemoral amputation (above the knee)
    • Foot amputations including toes
    • Hip disarticulation (amputation through the hip joint capsule)
  • Upper limb amputations
    • Hand or partial hand amputation
    • Loss of fingers and/or thumb
    • Wrist disarticulation
    • Transtibial amputation (below the elbow)
    • Transhumeral amputation (above the elbow)
    • Should disarticulation
  • Multiple amputations which can result from amongst others, trauma, meningitis and vascular complications.
  • Elective amputation. The natural instinct for many is to retain a seriously injured limb and manage ongoing symptoms with operative intervention, rehabilitation and pain management. Unfortunately sometimes the level of disability and daily ongoing pain is such that elective amputation is chosen by an individual and supported by their treating consultant as the most likely option to improve an individual’s quality of life.

What can specialist amputation lawyers do for you?

If you are entitled to amputation compensation we will liaise with third party insurers and arrange for an independent immediate-needs assessment as soon as possible. We will use the Rehabilitation Code wherever possible. This can result in swift alterations to your home and the supply of suitable equipment to enable you to quickly return to independently managing your life.

In most cases interim payments that help alleviate financial hardship and allow you to concentrate on your recuperation and rehabilitation can also be obtained at an early stage.

We have developed relationships with leading experts and barristers in the field through our experience with various types of lower and upper limb amputation injury. In order to fully investigate the consequences of the injury on your life and maximise the value of compensation due to you, we generally need to involve some of the following experts:

  • Orthopaedic Surgeon
  • Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Prosthetic Expert
  • Architect (in respect of home alterations)
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Employment Consultant
  • For medical negligence claims, an expert who specialises in the condition which led to your amputation

We will instruct all necessary experts and review their findings and opinions with you, organise recommended treatment on a private basis as appropriate and plan the best way forward with you.

Assistance with your prosthesis and types of prosthesis

The level of NHS prosthetic provision nationally is patchy.

For maximum mobility and comfort you are entitled to state of the art prosthetic provision both for everyday life activities and leisure and sporting activities (cycling, swimming or skiing for example).

Various types of prostheses are available according to the type and level of amputation. The foremost concern is comfort of the socket, followed by the function of the limb and the type of finish required.

We can assist you in choosing a supplier, and ensure that all the costs – for fitting, supply, maintenance and future replacements – are paid by the third party insurer. The costs linked to prostheses are considerable therefore this is a central issue in maximising your future comfort, mobility and, if appropriate, confidence in the cosmetic appearance of the artificial limb.

There have been substantial changes in the technological development of prosthetic limbs in the last two decades. These include both materials and application of technological advances such as 3D printing, microprocessors, the connection of nerve endings / Myoelectric prosthesis and Targeted muscle reinnervation to sensors to stimulate movement in the artificial limb and Osseo integration, which involves attaching the prosthetic limb directly to living bone rather than fitting the prosthetic limb to the residual limb via a socket.

These recent developments can substantially increase the quality of life of amputees. For some amputees this can be the difference between being mainly wheelchair bound or active on both legs.

We will ensure that you are best advised as to the most suitable prosthetic limbs and components for your every day needs, hobbies and sporting activities.

Phantom pain

This is pain that feels like it is coming from the amputated limb. It was originally thought to be a psychological phenomenon but is now understood to be caused by the spinal cord and the brain. Some amputees do not suffer phantom pain. For others managing the pain is a daily challenge.

Amputee experiences and preliminary studies suggest that Osseo integration (directly fitted skeletal prosthesis as opposed to a socket fitting) can significantly reduce phantom pain.

Types of amputation compensation claims

These are some of the different types of claims that could be included:

  • Pain and suffering and loss of amenity, often referred to as general damages. These awards are low in England and Wales compared with other developed nations. Compensation awards currently range from in the region of £15,000 for loss of a finger to £250,000 for loss of both arms or loss of both legs for example.
  • Prosthetic costs. This includes every day limbs and specific sports and hobby limbs as appropriate for the individual amputee, plus fitting and maintenance costs. The life span of a prosthetic limb is usually 5 years. The costs of multiple prosthetic limbs over the course of a lifetime is often the largest individual element of a claim.
  • Care and assistance. This includes care provided by friends and family for doing things that you would otherwise have done or would not have been necessary pre-amputation. It can include shopping, cleaning, cooking and other day to day tasks that you would otherwise have done. Care claims can be limited to a few months post-amputation or be projected forward for life depending on the individual’s circumstances and needs.
  • Rehabilitation and occupational therapy
  • Cost of moving property, for example to single storey accommodation if appropriate plus home and vehicle adaptations. The law is currently in a state of flux in relation to the costs of moving property. We can advise you how best to present claims in this regard.
  • Past and future loss of earnings and loss of pension. Many amputees return to their pre-amputation employment and past and future loss of earnings claims, for a below knee amputee who has a desk job for example can be relatively modest. At the other end of the scale, if your employment is manual and you do not have the skills and educational attainment for a desk job your future employment prospects can be extremely limited or even extinguished. Each individual is different in this regard. These claims require careful consideration and involve complex mathematical calculations. Forensic accountants are often instructed to prepare a loss of pension right claims for both private and state pension. Employment consultants can be instructed to assist with advice on future employment capabilities and the cost of appropriate retraining if appropriate.
  • Other financial losses and expenses. These are determined by the individual’s reasonable needs, and for example, range from replacement ferrules (the rubber stopper on a walking stick), knorks (one handed knife and fork for upper limb amputees) to specialist fitness equipment and gym/pool memberships, mobility vehicles and extensive vehicle modifications. If the equipment is reasonably required by you it should be included in your claim. There is often significant negotiation between both parties’ legal representatives as to what is reasonable or not. The opinion of the appointed experts in your case will often be sought to assist the assessment of an individual’s reasonable needs.
  • Future risk of amputation. This can apply to a non-amputated but injured limb, in the case of infection or deterioration or an amputated limb where complications arise. For example a below knee amputee may suffer complications and have to undergo an above knee amputation on the same limb. The risks in this regard will be assessed by your appointed medical experts in percentage terms. Any risk that is above minimal (above 1% in approximate terms) needs to be factored into your case. This is known as provisional damages. If a case is settled on a provisional damage basis the case can be re-opened after conclusion to enable the individual to be compensated fully if the future identified risk occurs. Alternatively the case can be concluded on a full and final non provisional damages lump sum basis with an extra compensation sum to allow for this future potential eventuality and the costs arising from it.
  • Short and long term financial planning. Our Deputy and Court of Protection team can help if appropriate.

Helping you adjust to life after amputation

In our experience some of the following is appropriate:

  • A visit from a Limbless Association Volunteer Visitor or Meningitis Research Foundation ambassador who has been through a similar experience to you can be of great help to some amputees.
  • Property adaptations.
  • Provision of equipment and aids.
  • Professional care and case management

Life after limb loss and amputation training day events

We organise annual training days for those working in the amputee field. In the past these have been organised in conjunction with Meningitis Research Foundation, Reach, 12 Kings Bench Walk Barristers’ Chambers and sponsored by Össur, Dorset Orthopaedic and Blatchford.

Amputation training day 2016

Previous training days

Our next event, “Amputation and co-existing medical problems including multiple limb loss” is on Thursday 8 March 2018, at our Bristol office. Click here for full speaker details. If you are interested in attending, please email victoria.james@clarkewillmott.com

Contact one of our amputation solicitors

If you need legal advice about making a compensation claim call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

Read about what our clients say about us.

Useful links to organisations that can provide support

Useful links for organisations that can provide support for amputees:

Meningitis Research Foundation medical negligence investors in people medical negligence

APIL medical negligence APIL Brain Injury Specialist medical negligence Limbless Association medical negligence

SIA medical negligence Headway medical negligence 2