Amputation and serious orthopedic injury
Sometimes the Injury is so severe that the injured person may have his or leg so badly damaged that it has to be amputated to allow the person some chance of mobility in the future. The Injury to a limb can be so devastating that even with the wonders of modern surgery and the incredible advances in medicine and the skills of the surgeon cannot save a limb or the injury is so severe that to retain the limb will result in ongoing life long pain and the injured person having no chance of ever walking again.
Even with the loss of a limb a person can continue to suffer what is known as phantom pain where a combination of the damage to the nerve endings where the limb was severed and the sensation that the limb is still present in its damaged and crushed form means that the injured person can still “feel” the pain as if the limb is still there and have the sensation almost like an illusion that the limb is still present.
As with the fantastic developments in modern medicine that have helped save some of the most devastating of in juries ( see case of Peter Willisford in the case studies section ) there are now incredible developments in Prosthetics. Most people will be aware of these if they have seen the Paralympics and some of the achievements of athletes who are able to perform amazing feats in numerous sports and competitions. Often the key to how succesful this will be depends on the extent of the injury. If the amputation is below the knee then the prosthetic will in all probability be more successful as only the ankle joint will be affected in relation to prosthetic movement that will be needed for mobility though whete there is an above the knee amputation this is more difficult as there is the added problem of the second joint movement with the knee.
In my case of Iveta Knause (see case study ) this lady had an above the knee amputation following a road traffic accident and although she had the help of the best available prosthesis purchased through the claim she still struggled with her mobility over any distance beyond 10 ft and was in danger of falling on uneven ground and couldn’t manage any stairs or steps.
Availability of Prosthetics
The NHS provides limited prosthesis to anyone who needs one either through injury or other causes but their availability is limited and limited to one limb per person.
This will often be sufficient provided the limb is working and not in need of repair. Often ,as with anything in life,these limbs are subject to wear and tear and damage that needs repairs which can take time to sort out as they have to be sent away to be looked at by the manufacturer.
Each limb is created to fit the individual amputee and as such unless a replacement or spare limb is made available to the injured person they will often have to wait weeks for the damaged limb to be repaired or replaced. In the meantime that person is often forced back into a wheel chair whilst they wait. It is one of the key issues in these cases that once liability for an accident has been established or resolved by agreement with the insurer of the person who caused the amputation interim funds are provided to help ensure that at least two limbs are manufactured and provided to the amputee to ensure they are always able to use this even if one is awaiting repair.
Putting the person back to the position they were in before the accident –
The important maxim that I have referred to in this website is that the purpose of the case , claim and compensation is to place the injured in the position as if this accident never happened as far as reasonabley possible and as far as compensation can provide this. Not only does that mean that a person should always, where reasonably possible , have a prosthetic limb to use but that the limb has to also provide the sort of flexibility that we all take for granted with our own limbs and as such specialist prosthesis’s are available for someone when they go swimming which are more aesthetically life like and also able to withstand any rigors of water etc, for women there are again limbs that provide similar aesthetic realism should she want to wear a dress etc. These are all specially made and I have added the links to the two major companies that provide such limbs and are also renowned experts in this area in providing evidence for litigation namely –
The provision of prosthesis and the costs of repair and maintenance add substatially to any claim especially as the reasonable need is lifelong.
Ground floor accomodation
In my two reported cases of Knause and Willisford I have set out the two key further issues which are at the forefront of the battle filed in this area with the insurer of the person who has caused the accident and that is whether or not ground floor accommodation is needed and if so how this can be achieved and how this is then calculated as part of the claim in damages.
In Mr Willisford’s case he had retained his limb though after two years of being in intense pain and suffering his mobility was limited to walking with a stick and he could only get up and down the stairs in his house by placing his feet on each step at a time – in two-be twos as the Judge remarked. The Judge accepted that if there was a fire or a burglary in his house Mr Willisford could not be expected to get up or down the stairs in his house safely and so he was awarded compensation to allow him to purchase a bungalow.
On the Knause matter there was no argument about the need for ground floor accomodation as she had her leg above the knee amputated in the accident but the issue was how the legal team could value this loss and how much would it cost to create a new build in her home country of Latvia which she had returned to after the accident.
How we managed to do this is set out in the detailed case study.
( for the way the court approach the calculation of compensation relating to ground floor accommodation see case of Roberts v Johnstone; CA 1989 July 7, 2015 )