Can I pursue a legal claim for my amputation?
You should seek legal advice for a compensation claim if someone else may be responsible for an amputation you have undergone (or are due to undergo).
The amputation may be as a result of a road traffic accident, an accident at work or following negligent medical care.
Specialist solicitors will be able to advise you whether you have a claim.
Compensation may be substantial and dramatically alter your lifestyle and the support available to you.
How can a legal claim help me?
A successful compensation claim cannot turn back the clock but it can go a long way towards alleviating hardship following an amputation.
Compensation may pay for adapted accommodation, transport, prostheses and equipment to restore independence. Rehabilitation and therapy can be provided to support you as you adjust to new circumstances, increase confidence and help with psychological/mental health.
Your loss of independence may be difficult for family members who often take on the role of carer. Compensation can be used to employ carers to ease the burden on family members or help support family members taking on this role.
Loss of earnings can also be claimed where you are no longer able to work or your role at work has been altered.
It is important to note that you may not have to wait until the conclusion of a claim to receive compensation. Interim payments may be available to help you with your immediate needs.
Can a legal claim help me if I’m not happy with my NHS treatment?
Compensation as part of a claim enables you to opt for private medical treatment and therapy not necessarily available through the NHS.
This may include a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon and prosthetist prior to the amputation to ensure the amputation results in an optimum residual limb for prosthetic replacement after the surgery.
Compensation may enable you to purchase a bespoke prosthetic limb more suited to your needs and lifestyle with the security of knowing that the funds are available for rehabilitation, limb replacement and maintenance in the future.
If the claim is against my GP and/or hospital, will it affect my future care?
No. Your care should not be affected in any way.
Your GP and/or the hospital do not have the right to refuse medical care as a result of a claim against them. You may, however, feel more comfortable looking for an alternative health care provider.
How much compensation will I get?
As part of your claim specialist lawyers will consider:
• The type of amputation you have had
• Any long term impact upon your health and any pre-existing health conditions
• Your ability to carry out daily activities and work
• The financial losses you have incurred and will incur in the future as a result of the amputation
Expert evidence will be required to determine your specific needs. This usually includes expertise in care, prosthetics, accommodation and physiotherapy.
A compensation claim may include the following:
• Specialist aids and equipment such prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs
• Adaptations to your home, for example a lift or adapted bathroom
• Alternative accommodation
• Professional help in relation to personal care and/or household jobs such as ironing, cleaning, gardening
• Medical and therapy expenses such as physiotherapy, help with phantom pain and additional surgery required
• Additional travel/transport expenses including purchase of an adapted car
• Assistance managing the psychological side effects of the amputation
• Loss of earnings
My home is not suitable as a result of the amputation. Can a compensation claim include a move to a suitable house?
Yes, if an accommodation expert concludes that your home is not suitable for your needs and no adaptations or extensions can be undertaken to make it suitable. The expert will consider your specific needs to include your level of mobility as well as the aids, equipment and care you require.
The accommodation claim may also include legal and moving costs, required adaptations and expenditure associated with the new property such as maintenance costs.
I’m not happy with my NHS prosthesis. Can I get a different prosthesis?
A prosthetic expert will be able to recommend an alternative prosthesis for you. The cost of suitable, custom-made prosthetic limbs and any cosmetic covering will be considered in your compensation claim. Specialist solicitors will seek to obtain an interim payment to fund the best prosthetic limb for you as quickly as possible.
The prosthetist will also consider additional prosthetics specific to your interests and hobbies, for example running, cycling or swimming.
Will the compensation affect my benefits?
If you receive compensation, your entitlement to receive means tested benefits may be affected. There are ways, however, to protect the compensation and any entitlement to benefits, for example by setting up a Personal Injury Trust.
Receiving benefits should not stop you from pursuing a claim for compensation but you should seek specific legal advice on this.
What happens to the compensation money if I die after the claim has been concluded?
If you received a lump sum compensation settlement, the money falls into your estate and will pass in accordance with your Will. If you have not made a Will, the money passes in accordance with the Intestacy rules (where someone dies without leaving a Will).
Is there a time limit to pursue a legal claim?
Court proceedings for a compensation claim should usually be commenced within three years of the injury. There are exceptions, specifically in relation to children and individuals who do not have capacity to pursue litigation. Your solicitor will be able to advise you further in this regard.
Ideally, you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible after the injury or when you learn that an amputation is going to be carried out.
Early legal advice is important as evidence may be based on an individual’s recollection which needs to be documented as soon as possible. In certain cases, an early interim payment can also be obtained to pay for much needed aids, equipment or treatment including early rehabilitation.
How is the legal claim funded?
Many solicitors provide “no win, no fee” funding arrangements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. This means that you may not have to pay anything if your case is unsuccessful. If your case is successful, the defendant will normally pay the majority of your legal costs in addition to your compensation. All solicitors are likely to seek a capped contribution from your compensation towards legal costs.
There may be alternative funding options available to you and you should discuss these with your solicitor.
How long will the claim take?
This depends on the complexity of the case and whether or not liability is admitted. The final conclusion of your claim may relate to when there is certainty regarding your prognosis.
Specialist solicitors will try to obtain an early admission of liability from the defendant and early funding to assist you as soon as possible.
If liability is not admitted or the case is complex, it will take longer and may involve use of the court process. You should receive regular updates on the anticipated process and time frame for your claim.
To find out if you are entitled to make a legal claim, talk to a specialist solicitor who regularly handles amputation claims. They will be able to advise you on the next steps you should take.
Boyes Turner LLP specialises in obtaining compensation for amputees. For more information please visit www.boyesturnerclaims.com.
Will I have to go to court?
The vast majority of cases resolve successfully without a final court hearing. This, however, cannot be guaranteed. If either liability or the value of your claim cannot be agreed, then the court process may be required. If the case does go to court, your solicitor will support and guide you through the process.