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I’ve Suffered a Personal Injury Resulting in an Amputation.

What Do I Need to Know?

An amputation is the ultimate permanent personal injury, one that will never heal, a part of one’s body gone forever. A fair verdict must recognize this finality and compensate accordingly.

As an amputee himself, attorney Conal Doyle has committed his practice at Doyle Law to serving those who have suffered a personal injury resulting in an amputation in getting the products, services and compensation they deserve to life a full life.

The cost of prosthetic devices has soared in the past 10 years and promises to continue rising as new technology emerges. The most significant cost factor affecting lower-limb amputees is the level of amputation involved: above the knee (AKA), below the knee (BKA), or at the knee (knee disarticulation). Above-the-knee and knee disarticulation patients have to use an artificial knee joint, typically the most expensive component of a prosthetic leg. Ten years ago, a mechanical hydraulic knee was standard issue. Today, microprocessor knees are the industry standard, allowing for more natural movements walking up and down stairs, walking on inclines, walking on sand or other soft surfaces.

Because of the success of microprocessor devices and continuing technological advancements in the field, the cost of future prosthetic care for amputees is likely to be a crushing debt – one that needs to be accounted for in every verdict or settlement. Technology changes will likely continue to revolutionize the field of prosthetic care and devices, and unlike flat-screen TVs, this technology never gets cheaper.

Unfortunately, amputees cannot rely on insurance to pay for full prosthetic benefits, because individual plans consider the need for prosthetics a preexisting condition. In our experience, many plans routinely deny prosthetic benefits to their policyholders. Few will cover more than one prosthetic limb, even though most amputees need several for different purposes.

What about noneconomic damages?

There can be no reasonable debate that the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of losing a limb is catastrophic and devastating. In representing clients who have suffered a personal injury resulting in an amputation, it is vital that an attorney demonstrate the damages clients have suffered to obtain full and fair compensation for past, present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, home-modifications and in-home care.

What type of prosthetic devices does a lower-limb amputee require?
Most lower-limb amputees need three prosthetic limbs: an everyday walking leg, a “water” leg, and a running/activity/backup leg. Highly active amputees who compete in sports may require several more.

The “everyday leg” typically has a microprocessor knee for an AKA and a microprocessor foot or ankle for a BKA. A C-Leg provides safety and stability for everyday activities, improves gait, and lowers energy expenditure. Unfortunately, it is not waterproof and not adequate for high-impact athletic activity.

A “water leg” is essential for use in the shower or bath, which is where amputees routinely suffer slip-and-fall injuries. A waterproof leg is also necessary for water sports or going to the beach.

Finally, a “running leg” is typically made with an “athletic foot” that provides energy return but that cannot be used with a microprocessor knee or ankle. The running leg can also serve as a backup leg if the everyday leg needs repair.

Excerpts from “Glimpsing the Future for an Amputee” by Conal Doyle, which is used by attorneys across the country as a guide for litigating limb loss cases.

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I have more questions. What do I do now?

The specifics of a particular personal injury claim depend on your individual circumstances and insurance policy. This article is not intended to be legal advice. If you believe you may have a personal injury claim, contact Doyle Law, an experienced civil litigation law firm with national experience handling personal injury claims, to discuss your particular issue and receive legal help. Please contact us (link to contact page) for a free consultation.

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