Amputation Injury Attorney in Los Angeles
May 29, 2014
As an amputation injury attorney in Los Angeles, I am aware of the devastating consequences that accident trauma requiring removal of a limb can cause a person. We all need our arms, legs, hands and feet to perform the natural tasks necessary for everyday life. When a traumatic event such as an auto accident, machinery or other equipment malfunction, gunshot wound, infection or other catastrophe necessitates the severing and removal of limbs or digits, the impact is lifelong.Most common causes of accident related amputations
Amputations can occur as a direct result of trauma. The severing of an arm, leg, fingers or toes can happen either at the scene of the incident or may be required later as a result of a medical procedure used to stem the spread of infection or where the limbs or digits have become so damaged that they require removal. The most common causes of trauma-related amputation include the following:
- Traffic collisions (including auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, train or bus incidents). This is especially true in large urban settings like Los Angeles where vehicular collisions are more common.
- Labor related accidents (including industrial saws, chain saws and other tree cutting equipment, machine operated presses, and other cylinders or instruments)
- Agricultural industry mishaps involving farm equipment
- Amputations required due to severe burns from thermal or electrical sources and electric shock
- Severing of limbs caused by explosions, gunshots, fireworks, or other types of explosive materials
- Having arms, legs or fingers severed from industrial cables or wires
- Door accidents involving vehicle or building doors (such as elevators or heavy commercial gates) being violently shut on limbs
Although there are cases where re-plantation or transplantation of the severed limb is possible, in most cases the injured victim will need to learn to live without the use of their extremity or adapt to a prosthetic. Luckily, the science and technology related to the development and manufacturing of prostheses has greatly improved in the past several decades. Nevertheless, the initial pain of surgical removal of bone and skin, grafting and other related medical procedures can be painful. Likewise, it takes months to years of physical rehabilitation, exercise and vocational training or other education to learn how to go on living as normal a life as possible without the use of a limb. This affects pretty much every aspect of everyday life including work, recreation and home life.
The laws of the State of California, provide that every person who is injured as a result of the “want of ordinary care” on the part of an individual or business entity is entitled to be compensated for their injury. Given that many amputations are the result of either traffic collisions or industrial injuries, there are multiple, potential means to prove legal liability.
Traffic Collision Claims: Civil liability for personal injuries in most traffic collision claims comes down to a standard of whether the motor vehicle operator was negligent. (For a definition of negligence, click here). In negligence claims, the injured party is entitled to damages for present and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. If the driver or registered owner or operator (e.g. commercial vehicles) is shown to have engaged in willful or gross negligence (e.g. known violations of rules or regulations or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), punitive damages (damages meant to punish the defendant) may also be awarded.
Industrial Injuries: While most labor-related injuries are restricted to workers compensation claims, which provide a rating based upon standards set forth in the California Labor Code, there are many instances where the injured party may also have a personal injury claim or claims. A prime example would be a defective piece of equipment. If it can be shown that the tool in question was defective either in its design or manufacture, the producer of the equipment may be held legally accountable for damages caused by the defect. Oftentimes, design flaws can be as simple as the lack of safety guards in place to prevent lacerations of fingers, toes, arms or legs. Likewise crushing injuries can be shown to be the result of poorly designed or manufactured industrial equipment including forklifts, machine punch or press apparatus, or similar machinery. (For full discussion of product liability claims in CA, click here).The Role of A Personal Injury Attorney In An Amputation Injury Claim
California law provides that the victim of catastrophic bodily harm including amputation is entitled to be compensated for all medical expenses leading up to and following the loss of limb. These expenses should be analyzed in detail and extrapolated through the life expectancy of the injured party. This would include the cost of emergency trauma care, surgical intervention, future surgeries, rehabilitation, and prosthetic devices, among other things. In addition, CA law states that, if liability is established and award of “economic” damages such as lost income, earning capacity and medical expenses, a jury must also award “general” or “non-economic” damages. While most people think of this as just “physical pain”, the definition is much broader and includes recompense for “physical impairment”, “disfigurement”, and “inconvenience”, “anxiety”, and the “loss of enjoyment of life activities”. (For full discussion of valuation of personal injury claims, click here).
The role of a quality lawyer is not only to assist the victim received the highest quality of diagnosis and treatment but, to also really understand and convey the value that should be placed on general damages. Spending one on one time with the amputee and their family and really getting to know the various facets of life that have been and will be affected by the lost limb and being able to, as much as possible, empathize and understand the victim’s loss. This then needs to be properly translated into words and demonstrative evidence like videos showing “a day in the life” of the amputee in order to get an insurance adjuster or jury to award full and complete damages.
Whether you live in Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire or anywhere in California, if you have suffered the loss of a limb and would like to consult with an attorney familiar with amputation claims.Additional Resources: