San Diego Amputation Lawyer

The loss of a limb doesn’t just affect personal appearance; it’s a catastrophic injury that can affect every aspect of your life including your ability to work. Amputation injury victims face a permanent disability that requires long-term physical therapy and extensive medical expenses.  

If you have suffered a traumatic amputation injury due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to recover compensation from the at-fault party. An experienced California amputation attorney can help you prove liability and pursue the full compensation you are counting on.

Berman & Riedel, LLP has recovered over $100 million on behalf of our clients. Our law firm has an outstanding reputation for litigating high-value injury cases throughout California. Contact our San Diego amputation injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll help you explore your legal options and fight for your rights.

How Common Are Amputation Injuries in California?

There are about 2 million Americans living with limb loss. Every year, there are around 185,000 amputations in the U.S., according to the Amputee Coalition. About 83,000 of them are traumatic.

Between 2015 and 2021, OSHA received 70,206 severe injury reports from employers in the U.S. under federal OSHA – this excludes employers under a State Plan like California.

There were 18,559 reports of amputation injuries in these states. Most work-related amputations were in manufacturing (55.2%), construction (10.5%), wholesale trade (5.7%), retail (5.2%), and transportation and warehousing (4.8%).

In 2017, there were 410 workplace amputation injuries in California.

The good news regarding amputations is that there has been a notable decrease in trauma-related loss of limb which has declined by over 50% in the past few decades. This reduction in trauma-related amputations can likely be linked to increased efforts to make the workplace safer, as well as more stringent safety requirements for potentially dangerous machinery which can be used at home, such as circular saws and lawnmowers. Also, medicine is progressing so that surgeons are better able to reattach limbs following an accident.

Types & Levels of Limb Loss

An amputation injury can involve complete or partial loss of an extremity. Amputations are broadly divided into two categories: lower extremity and upper extremity amputation.

Upper extremity levels of amputation are:

  • Partial hand or finger amputation (transcarpal)
  • Wrist level (wrist disarticulation)
  • Below the elbow (transradial amputation)
  • Above the elbow (transhumeral amputation)
  • Shoulder level (shoulder disarticulation)
  • Above the shoulder (forequarter) 

The final two levels result in the loss of the entire arm. About 70% of people with upper loss of limb have an amputation below the elbow (transradial). 

About 70% of amputations in the U.S. are lower limb amputation. Lower extremity levels of amputation include:

  • Toe or partial foot amputation
  • Ankle level (ankle disarticulation)
  • Below the knee (Transtibial amputation)
  • Knee level (knee disarticulation)
  • Above the knee (transfemoral amputation)
  • Hip level (hip disarticulation)

The final level results in the loss of the entire leg.

Surgical Amputation vs Traumatic Amputation

Amputation refers to the removal or loss of an appendage such as a leg, arm, hand, finger, or toe. Amputation injuries are referred to as either surgical or traumatic.

  • Traumatic amputations are limbs or extremities lost due to an injury or accident
  • Surgical amputations are limbs or portions of limbs removed due to excessive damage, dysfunction, infection, or disease 

A traumatic amputation injury can cause the loss of an extremity in the accident itself, such as a finger being torn or cut off in a machinery accident. It may also involve a limb that’s damaged so extensively, for instance, by a crush injury or severe burns, that surgical removal is necessary.

What Causes an Amputation Injury?

The most common causes of limb loss are diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, and trauma. Cancer is responsible for just 2% of amputations. Vascular disease alone, including diabetes, is responsible for 54% of all amputations in the U.S. Diabetes is solely responsible for 60% of lower leg amputations that aren’t caused by trauma like a car accident.

A traumatic accident is responsible for 45% of all amputations, or more than 83,000 amputations in the U.S. every year. These life-changing and catastrophic injuries can happen in explosions, but they are most likely to happen when victims suffer a sudden accident while working, driving, or using power tools and heavy equipment.

The most common causes of traumatic amputations include:

  • Motor vehicle collisions. Car accidents, truck accidents, and other types of collisions are a leading cause of amputation. A crash can cause crush injuries, severe burns, and other injuries that necessitate surgical amputation. The crash can also cause traumatic loss of limb when it’s cut or torn off.
  • Workplace accidents. Injuries sustained in any type of workplace accident can cause limb loss. Factories, industrial sites, and construction sites have the highest rate of amputation injuries, usually due to heavy machinery.
  • Medical malpractice. Medical negligence can result in the need for amputation in many ways. Failing to recognize and treat post-operative blood clots can require amputation, for example. Wrong-site surgery is one of the most egregious forms of negligence and has even resulted in the wrongful amputation of the wrong limb.
  • Agricultural accidents. Lawnmower accidents and farm accidents involving heavy equipment can lead to devastating loss of limb.
  • Severe burns.
  • Electrical shock injuries.
  • Fireworks, explosives, and firearm accidents. This includes injuries to military members.

According to the BLS, machinery is involved in 58% of work-related amputation injuries, followed by parts and materials (15%), containers, fixtures, and furniture (8%), vehicles (8%), and tools, equipment, and instruments (7%). Metal, woodworking, and special material machinery were overwhelmingly responsible for these injuries.

No matter what type of accident led to your injury, our personal injury attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation to identify who was at fault. We will gather evidence and work with experts as needed to prove liability and hold the negligent party accountable for your devastating injury. 

Compensation for San Diego Amputation Injury Cases

An amputation injury victim faces not only the trauma of the accident itself but extensive and often painful medical treatment and the psychological trauma of the injury itself. The victim’s life is changed forever.

A San Diego amputation injury lawyer can help you hold the responsible party accountable for all the losses you have suffered. A successful personal injury case allows you to recover financial compensation for your economic (financial) and non-economic (personal) losses.

Contact Berman & Riedel, LLP, for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Our legal team can help you understand what your case may be worth and your legal options.

Below are the most common types of damages available for a serious injury.

Medical Expenses

 Interdisciplinary care is necessary for healing, recovery, and rehabilitation following an amputation. You are entitled to compensation for all the medical bills associated with your injury. This includes not only medical expenses you have already faced but lifetime healthcare costs, rehabilitation, prosthetics, and more.

You may recover money for medical expenses such as:

  • Surgical amputation
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Ongoing medical care
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Home health care
  • Prosthetics

There is no limit to the amount of compensatory damages for medical expenses. To calculate anticipated future medical expenses, our amputation injury lawyers will work with life care and medical experts.

Lost Wages & Future Earnings

An amputation can rob a victim’s ability to return to work or perform any gainful employment. This type of permanent disability doesn’t just affect your income while you recover: it reduces your earning potential forever.

You can make a claim for lost wages when you file a personal injury lawsuit. Lost wages can include the value of all wages lost that are related to your injury: past, present, and future.

To determine how much you would have earned in the future if you had not been injured, our legal team will work with vocational and economic experts.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

You are also entitled to claim any reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury, including reasonable future expenses. Common examples include:

  • Home modifications
  • Vehicle modifications
  • Assistive technology
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments

Pain and Suffering & Other Non-Economic Damages

Losing a limb does not just mean financial losses; it means physical pain and emotional and psychological losses as well. After an amputation, the remaining nerve connections in the brain and spinal cord remember and look for the missing limb. This can lead to phantom pain syndrome which causes extreme pain and phantom limb syndrome which refers to other phantom sensations as if the limb is still there.

Your injury may also cause significant psychological trauma and turmoil and depression. The quality of your life is likely impacted by your injury as well.

California courts recognize these losses and allow you to pursue damages for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Examples of non-economic damages you can recover include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement and/or permanent scarring

Pain and suffering damages can be complicated to calculate. With permanent injuries, a factor of 1 to 5 (depending upon the degree of pain and suffering) is multiplied by the amount of economic damages. Amputation attorneys in San Diego use this as a starting point for negotiations.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages. These damages can only be awarded by a jury; they are not available in a settlement. The purpose of punitive damages is punishing the defendant for their behavior, not compensating you for your losses.

To be entitled to punitive damages, you must have clear evidence that the defendant’s behavior fit one of the following:

  • Oppression, or conduct that causes unjust or cruel hardship with willful disregard
  • Malice, which is intentional wrongdoing or willful disregard for your safety and rights
  • Fraud, or intentional deception for the defendant’s personal gain

Punitive damages may be available if your case involved a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, for example, or assault.

If your case qualifies, an experienced amputation injury attorney will request punitive damages and demonstrate how the defendant’s cruel disregard for your safety changed your life forever.

Deadline to File an Amputation Injury Case in California

The time limit to recover money for your amputation injury is limited by the California statute of limitations. You have just two years from your date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Injury cases involving medical malpractice must be brought within three years of the injury and within one year of discovery.

If your traumatic amputation was related to a workplace accident, you must report it within 30 days and file a workers’ compensation claim within one year.

The sooner you begin pursuing your claim, the better. The statute of deadlines can approach faster than you think and bar you from recovering any compensation. Contact our injury lawyers as soon as possible to preserve your claim and critical evidence.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a California Amputation Injury Lawyer

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our compassionate personal injury lawyers understand the incredibly difficult emotional and physical challenges amputation victims face. We will give you the sound legal advice and tireless legal advocacy you deserve.

Our goal is to recover the maximum compensation possible to help our clients preserve their quality of life and receive the medical care they need. We have achieved excellent case results and recovered more than $100 million in life-changing settlements and awards for our clients.

If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a limb, contact a San Diego amputation injury lawyer at Berman & Riedel, LLP today to schedule a free case review. Our law firm is located in San Diego, but we accept cases throughout California. We will help you understand the legal options available in your amputation case.