Over two million people live with amputated limbs in America. A good number of amputations result from auto accidents. While injuries requiring amputations are relatively few compared to other injuries, they cause the worst damage to victims.
An amputation can involve the removal of a limb or parts of the limb, such as fingers or toes. Irrespective of the affected body part, an amputation is life-altering. It affects a person’s life in many ways, including losing the ability to earn a living, mobility, and psychological well-being.
Types of Amputations
There are two main types of accident-related amputations; traumatic amputations and surgical amputations. Traumatic amputations often occur when the limb or a part of the limb is severed on impact. If the emergency response team can arrive at the accident scene fast enough, it may be possible to have the affected part reattached. If not, the injured person will still need to undergo an operation to treat the injury.
On the other hand, surgical amputations are surgeries that become necessary after an accident. There are several reasons why the treating doctor may recommend an amputation. One such reason is compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome occurs when intense pressure is exerted on a limb, limiting blood flow or severely injuring the muscles, nerves, and other tissues, inflicting damages that make amputation the only option of treatment.
The other reason why a doctor would recommend surgical amputation is when an injury gets infected. The kind of infection that would require amputation would be where the infection results in the death of skin or body tissue or has the potential of spreading to other parts of the body, inflicting further damage.
Possible Complications from an Amputation
Irrespective of the type of amputation – surgical or traumatic – they always present some complications. The most significant complication in amputation is bleeding to death because the amputation involves severing major blood vessels. The risk is much higher for traumatic amputations because the bleeding is uncontrolled. Under such circumstances, the victim’s life is dependent on how fast help arrives.
The second major complication is blood clots. These are common in patients with low mobility after an accident and can be controlled through medication and therapy. There is also the risk of infection like in any other open injury. Infections can result in the patient needing more surgeries or death if not caught in time.
Most people look at amputations from a physical point of view. Many don’t know that amputations can have a massive toll on the affected person’s psychological well-being. The affected individual can suffer panic attacks, depression, and PTSD that can adversely affect an affected person’s quality of life.
The Cost of an Amputation
“Amputations come at a significant cost to the victim, which goes beyond the cost of treatments,” says injury attorney Richard Goldshall of Ostroff Injury Law. If you are not at fault for an accident that resulted in an amputation, you may be eligible for compensation. However, getting compensation may not be a smooth ride. You may need to involve an injury attorney to better your chances at fair compensation because the at-fault party will always fight to lower your claim.
Fair compensation must adequately cover all costs involved, such as medical treatment, until you attain maximum medical improvement, physical and occupational therapies necessitated by accident, cost of prosthetics, and lost wages. It must also cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and psychological trauma.