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Your guide to amputation injuries

Cyclist with a prosthetic leg

Amputation injuries are one of the most life-changing events that can happen to anyone in the workplace. The loss of a limb is not only physically disabling but is also often matched by a loss of self-esteem and a fear of what the future may hold. Therapy and counselling may be needed to help a patient who has lost a leg or arm come to terms with the overwhelming loss.

No amount of compensation will be able to reverse the suffering and stress caused to an amputee victim and their dependants. Following surgery, there will be many months of rehabilitation and a complete readjustment will be needed to cope with restricted function or movement and learning to use a prosthetic and other support equipment.

Even the most basic of tasks may present the biggest challenge, such as:

  • Moving around the house
  • Opening doors and cupboards
  • Holding common household objects
  • Walking up stairs.

A full limb amputation can often mean experiencing difficulties in returning to work or gaining re-employment. The impact on immediate and future earnings can often cause increasing stress and psychological problems.

An employer has a legal responsibility to all employees, contractors and visitors in the workplace to ensure a safe work environment where machinery, equipment and tools are maintained to the required safety standards. An employer can be held responsible for a breach in the workplace safety regulations that failed to minimise the risk of a catastrophic injury and resulted in an amputation.

The decision to seek legal advice is never an easy one to make.

Your Legal Friend has 30 years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and serious injury compensation. From the first time we discuss the special circumstances of your case, our dedicated team of specialist solicitors will provide you with all the expert guidance you need to help you succeed in making your claim., Your Legal Friend is committed to making the securing the best possible  compensation for your present and future care, which can include:

  • Special equipment for essential daily activities
  • Costs  involved in adapting your home, where necessary
  • Special support equipment. 

Major injury statistics

  • 19,707 major injuries to employees , including amputations, fractures and burns          (Workplace Injuries Report- The Health and Safety Executive, 2012/13)

Causes of amputation

  • Traumatic amputation 

When a sudden and unexpected event occurs, which causes a limb to be violently torn away, the outcome is known as a ‘traumatic amputation’.  There are four main types of traumatic amputation:

  • Mechanical – most traumatic amputations are mechanical, caused by workplace machinery
  • Chemical – contact with corrosive chemicals
  • Electrical – a high voltage electric shock
  • Thermal – extreme levels of heat.

It may be possible to re-attach a partly severed or, possibly, a fully severed limb.  However, in the most serious cases when a traumatically injured limb cannot be saved, often because of severe blood vessel damage and tissue death, a prosthetic limb will usually be fitted.

Surgery is performed to shape the bone in the remaining limb and clean the wound, which can involve skin grafts. More than one procedure may be needed to prepare for fitting a prosthetic limb.

  • Surgical amputation

These amputations are performed by a doctor and may be the only option where a severe injury is caused by an accident at work, such as:

  • Crushing injuries
  • Blast injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Burns from acid or dangerous chemicals

If a serious limb injury is not treated promptly, there may be further complications caused by infection.

The most frequently reported serious injuries that lead to a surgical amputation are when:

  • Fingers, a hand or an entire upper arm become trapped and pulled into machinery with missing, faulty or disabled safety guards. This is one of the most frequent and regular causes of serious injury and amputation.

In a number of cases, the guard has been disabled so any blockage that could slow or hold up production can be quickly cleared by an operator without following the necessary safety precautions that had been intended to prevent the risk of an accident.

Sometimes the guards are not re-attached following machine maintenance, service or repair.

  • Feet, shins or thighs are struck or crushed between moving vehicles, forklift trucks or other mobile machinery.

Types of amputation

A specific type of amputation is classified by the part of the body that is removed.  This applies to both traumatic and surgical amputations.

Upper limb amputation – the arms, hands or fingers.

  • Shoulder disarticulation – entire arm at shoulder level and through the shoulder.
  • Forequarter amputation – an entire arm at the shoulder, including removal of the shoulder and part of the shoulder blade and collar bone.
  • Trans-humeral amputation (above the elbow) – upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow, where use of the shoulder is preserved.
  • Elbow disarticulation – through the elbow joint.
  • Transradial amputation (below the elbow) – through the forearm between the elbow and hand, where use of the elbow is preserved.
  • Wrist disarticulation – through the wrist joint.
  • Metacarpal amputation – the hand where the wrist is left intact. A partial hand amputation can keep the wrist in use.
  • Digit amputation – one (or more) of the fingers or the thumb, which can be the entire digit, or just the  upper part or ‘tip’. 

Lower limb amputation – the legs, feet or toes.

  • Pelvic or transpelvic amputation (also known as hemipelvectomy) - up to half of the pelvis and the entire leg on the same side.

          - Internal: part of the pelvis is removed but the leg is saved.
          - External: part of the pelvis is removed but the leg cannot be saved.

  • Hip disarticulation – entire leg through the hip joint capsule.
  • Transfemoral amputation (above the knee) – between the hip and the knee (through the thigh bone or femur), where full use of the hip joint is retained. Amputations, especially above-knee, can often lead to additional complications.
  • Knee disarticulation – through the knee joint itself.
  • Transtibial amputation (below the knee) – between the knee and the foot, preserving use of the knee and most common form of amputation.
  • Ankle disarticulation – through the ankle joint, removing the foot but preserving the leg.
  • Partial foot amputation – part of the foot is removed.
  • Digit amputation – one or more toes, which can be the entire digit, or just the upper part or ‘tip’.

Amputation injury claims

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, “employers have a duty to their employees to provide a safe-working environment in a ‘reasonably practicable’ manner”.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) places duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment and whose employees use work equipment.

If a direct link can be established between an employer’s negligence and the cause of an employee’s accident, there may be good grounds to pursue a claim for the resulting loss and damage involving amputation.

How Your Legal Friend can help you

At Your Legal Friend, our dedicated team of specialist solicitors has over 30 years of experience in successfully resolving many different types of serious personal injury cases.  Our sensitive approach means we work with you to understand how everyone involved is affected, how we can construct the best possible claim for you and how we can help you secure appropriate compensation to support you now and in the future.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim.  We can:

  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 163 5645 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.