All you need to know about making a claim with Thompsons
Serious accidents can lead to the most severe and life altering injuries, including the amputation of major body parts. Over the years Thompsons have secured millions of pounds of compensation for our clients who were the victims of accidents causing amputations of fingers, toes, hands, feet, arms, legs, and even eyes. Amputations can also occur following illness or infection which may have been caused by the negligence of healthcare practitioners.
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We understand that a great deal of readjustment and rehabilitation will be required following surgery and that this may come at a significant personal and financial cost. We also understand that if the amputation has occurred as a result of an accident, a claim for compensation can be a very important part of the healing process by providing much needed financial and practical support as you readjust.
Making an amputation compensation claim can be a daunting process without the right level of guidance and support. At Thompsons Solicitors, we want to make your journey to justice as easy and as straightforward as possible. Here, we answer some of the most pressing questions our clients often have before beginning their claim.
Why should I make an amputation compensation claim?
Many amputation patients require prosthetics to help them cope with daily activities. Custom made prosthetic limbs with cosmetic coverings are very expensive and may require the user to undergo a period of readjustment before being able to cope adequately.
A personal injury claim can cover the cost of the prosthetic and make provisions for the ongoing maintenance of the limb. Sums may also be awarded for rehabilitation therapies, physiotherapy and supportive equipment. Damages can also be sought to cover any required alterations that need to be made to your home – such as a stairlift or a modified bathroom – and your car. If your family is unable to provide you with the sufficient amount of care because of their work commitments, then a carer may need to be employed. This, too, will be taken into account when calculating the compensation amount.
Treatments for amputation victims are available on the NHS, but these may not be readily available and certain items, such as prosthetics and mobility aids, will not be the most advanced options. The best prosthetics use the latest technology so that they can be made to a person's exact specification and are controlled by microchips and computers. Unfortunately, such state-of-the-art artificial limbs carry a heavy price tag and will not be available on the NHS.
Since we believe that everything should be done to help the victims of negligence, we think all amputees should be entitled to the best therapies, rehabilitation, prosthetics and aids so that they have the best chance of adjusting after an accident. A Thompsons' lawyer will help you obtain a fair amount of compensation so that you'll have access to the types of treatment and services not available on the NHS.
As well as physiotherapy, the psychological damage of losing a body part will need to be addressed. The long-term effects of the injury on your mental health should be reflected in the final reward.
Will I have to wait until my claim is settled to receive prosthetics and other aids?
No. Personal injury cases can take a long time to reach a final outcome, possibly a number of years. We know that, for the majority of amputation victims, waiting this long for the necessary treatment and aids is simply not an option, and the faster they can receive rehabilitation, the better. That's why, during the court process, Thompsons can seek interim payments to ensure you receive the best quality treatment and prosthetics so that you can begin your rehabilitation as soon as possible.
Is there a time limit on making an amputation compensation claim?
There is a standard time limit on all personal injury claims of three years. The three-year limit starts either from the date of the accident or from the date you became aware that you're the amputation could be linked to an earlier incident.
The deadline is different for children and those who lack mental capacity. Because a child cannot claim until they reach adulthood, the three years does not begin until they reach 16. If the claimant is being treated under the Mental Health Act 1983, it begins from the date they are discharged.
However, it is also possible for a family member to act on behalf of someone who lacks the legal capacity to make a claim themselves.
It's best to speak to a legal expert as soon as you know you're going to require amputation surgery so that you can discuss all your options with them at the earliest possible time.
Can claims be made on a No Win No Fee basis?
Absolutely. With an expansive team of experienced solicitors, many of whom specialise in severe injury and amputation claims, we are confident that we can lead your case to success. Our No Win No Fee package reflects this confidence. In the unlikely event that your claim is unsuccessful (Thompsons Solicitors wins more than nine out of ten cases we take to court), you won't be charged a penny.
Who will pay the cost of compensation?
This depends on who is established to be liable for the incident which led to your amputation.
If an accident happened in the workplace and was the result of poor health and safety regulations, then the responsibility is likely to fall upon your employer. In this case, their liability insurance will be used to cover the claim. In Scotland, employers' liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business employing one or more staff.
If the amputation is the consequence of a road accident, then the liable driver's motor insurer will cover the claim, but if the accident was caused by an uninsured driver, then a claim will be made through the Motor Insurers Bureau.
How much compensation will be awarded?
Many factors will be considered when deciding the sum of your compensation. It will be based mainly on the extent of your injury and the amount of suffering it has caused you. Money awarded to compensate for pain and suffering is known as solatium and your loss of finance will also be considered – for instance, the loss of earnings caused by being unable to work and the money required to cover treatment and care costs. Compensation awarded for these reasons is known as special damages, or patrimonial loss.
As amputations cause a lot of suffering, damages awards can be significant. Final amounts will depend on the body part that has been amputated and how much of it has been lost.
Here is a rough guide of what you can expect to receive, based on some common amputation injuries:
- Loss of index finger – in the region of £14,250
- Loss of thumb – £27,000 to £41,675
- Loss of one hand – £73,100 to £83,32
- Loss of one arm below the elbow – £73,100 to £83,325
- Loss of one arm above the elbow – £83,325 to £99,500
- Loss of both arms –£183,000 to £228,000
- Loss of a big toe – In the region of £23,800
- Loss of one foot – £63,825 to £83,325
- Loss of one leg below the knee –£74,475 to £101,075
- Loss of one leg above the knee – £79,700 to £104,500
- Loss of both legs – £183,000 to £214,350
Will my case go to court?
The majority of personal injury cases do not end up going to court. This is because it's usually in the best interests of both parties to reach a settlement before the claim escalates to this stage. With that said, some cases are more likely to require a court hearing, especially when the claimant has sustained a severe injury and the damages award is likely to be substantial. Since an amputation is always the result of a severe injury – they are only carried out by medics when there is no other solution – the chances of the claim going to court may be higher, especially if liability is disputed. However, with Thompsons' No Win No Fee package you are fully protected from all legal costs and financial risks even if your case does go to court.
How is liability proven?
Liability is determined through examination of witness statements, medical records, any available photographic evidence, and any other relevant information, such as workplace health and safety documentation.
To help your case, you should make as much of this information available to your solicitor as possible. The stronger the evidence, the more chance your case has of succeeding. In the event of a workplace or road accident, then an investigation may already have been carried out, which will prove useful for your claim.
What if I am partially liable?
If you think that you are in some way responsible for the accident that led to the amputation – perhaps, for example, because you didn't follow your employer's safety instructions to the letter, try not to worry. The law places a very heavy burden on employers and drivers in relation to the safety of their employees and other road users. If the other party tries to argue that you were partially responsible for your accident there is a fairly difficult legal test they must meet. They must prove with evidence that what you did was more than mere inadvertence. They must prove what you did actually amounted to negligence. That may not be easy. But if they are able to meet this high standard of proof the courts will determine how liable you are, and the compensation will be split accordingly. So, if you're deemed to be 25 percent responsible, you will receive 75 percent of the damages you would have otherwise been awarded.
How expensive will it be to fund my claim?
At Thompsons, we offer our clients a range of funding options, including a No Win No Fee option. Making a No Win No Fee claim will help calm any anxiety you have over running up high legal fees with the possibility of no reward for your time and expense. No Win No Fee means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not be charged. If you do win your case, then a small portion of your award will be used to pay our fee. This will be a capped percentage discussed with you from the outset of your claim.
Thompsons puts its clients' best interests ahead of everything else, so we will always strive to keep our fees at a minimum. Our fees are capped at a maximum 20 percent of your damages and in many claims, it will be a significantly lower percentage.
Can Thompsons Solicitors make home visits?
Yes, we can. We realise that amputation of a limb may severely restrict your mobility. That's why, if you're unable to make the journey to one of our offices in Scotland, we can arrange for one of our solicitors to come to your home or visit you in hospital.
Will the compensation affect any state benefits I receive?
Receiving compensation could affect your entitlement to certain means-tested benefits.
In many cases, benefits can still be claimed, but it is important that you discuss this with your solicitor.
If your compensation is a significant sum, Thompsons' personal injury solicitors will be able to help you set up a personal injury trust, which will allow you to protect your entitlement to benefits and manage your finances in the best way possible.
Is it possible to seek interim payments to help with urgent priorities?
Yes. With an amputation, as with all serious injuries, you will have to deal with the effects immediately and are likely to need financial support quickly, however, it may take some time before a final settlement is reached. Therefore, in certain circumstances, it is possible for the court to determine an interim award to finance essential care and equipment while the final settlement is still being calculated.
Can I claim if I live outside of Scotland?
Yes. Many of our claimants are based outside of Scotland, living in other areas of the UK as well as abroad. Regardless of where you currently live, if the incident that resulted in an amputation happened in Scotland, then you should use a personal injury lawyer in Scotland.
So, what's the next step?
Thompsons Solicitors have gained extensive experience dealing with amputation compensation claims over the years. We are Scotland's largest personal injury law firm, home to many specialist lawyers who are ready to bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise to each client's case.
Talk to Thompsons to make an amputation compensation claim today.