As a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento since 1982, I’ve often had occasion to represent people who have lost a limb due to trauma.
Inevitably, people who have suffered an amputation are left with extreme physical, emotional and financial problems.
When preparing these cases for trial, it is critical that a life care planner be engaged so that the cost of future medical and psychological care can be presented to the jury. A few years ago, UC San Francisco Medical Center estimated that the lifetime cost of care for a single limb loss was over $850,000.
A Life Care Planner is usually a Nurse who has had advanced training in economics.
During the course of a case, she works hand in hand with the attorney and medical experts to come to the best estimate he or she can on the cost of future medical care.
In general, the cost of an artificial limb depends on how electronically advanced it is as well as on the level of amputation.
The range of an prosthetic arm can range from $3,000 (For a cosmetic nonworking arm) up to $100,000 for an advanced microprocessor enabled limb.
It’s important that attorney’s understand the difference between a basic or a middling prosthetic and one that is very high end.
A board certified prosthetist can help demonstrate to an attorney and to a jury how these limbs work and why the client should be given the best technology available.
The prosthetist can also testify for the length of time after which each prosthetic must be replaced. These prosthetics wear out on the average every 5 years.
If a client loses an arm or leg at age 30, there should be money set aside for future prostheses. The artificial leg or arm will need to be replaced 8 times on average.
The attorney must carefully explain and illustrate this for a jury so they can calculate and award future medical care.
In addition to the cost of the prosthesis itself, there will be costs for fitting, medical bills for MRI’s and X-Rays, pain management medication costs, expenses for occupational and physical therapy as well as expenses for psychological counseling. Set asides for attendant care and home modifications should also be calculated.
When all is said and done, the future medical costs of an amputation can exceed 1 Million dollars.
A sample Life Care Plan written by a very experienced economist and life care planner can be seen here.
Another Life Care Plan for an Amputee can be found here.
If you or a family member has suffered an amputation, its best to consult with an amputation injury lawyer experienced in these matters.
I’m Ed Smith and you can call me anytime at 916-921-6400 in Sacramento or 800-404-5400.
Photo Attribution: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anastasia Puscian [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons