What you need to know about amputation and disfigurement injuries, and how you can recover compensation in Texas
Amputations and other disfigurements, regardless of where they are or how severe, are devastating. On top of the trauma of the initial accident, you're facing a lifetime of rehabilitation, recovery, and learning to live with your injuries.
Such injuries, since they are severe and life-long, can cause financial strain on a family, and lost time at work (or even a lost job) can add to that strain. Like all states, Texas allows victims of these injuries to sue for their damages.
In this article, we'll take a look at what's considered an amputation or disfigurement injury, as well as how to receive compensation.
What's considered amputation or disfigurement?
The term “amputation” refers to the removal of a limb, whether that's an arm, finger, or foot. This removal is typically caused by trauma of some sort or a medical emergency. Those who have endured an amputation are often forced to relearn how to complete basic tasks such as eating and walking.
The term “disfigurement” refers to any permanent damage done to an individual's soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, skin, etc.) or bones. This could include nerve damage, severe scarring or burns, or other changes in appearance. Amputation is considered a form of disfigurement.
Both amputation and other forms of disfigurement are considered catastrophic injuries. This means that they're among the most devastating for victims because they require a lifetime of recovery and rehabilitation.
What makes amputation and disfigurement cases different from other personal injury cases?
Because of the severity of amputation and other disfigurement injuries, damages are often higher than in other types of personal injury cases.
Medical attention isn't limited to the time immediately after the accident; rehabilitation can last months, years, or a lifetime. And paying for that care is costly.
When it comes to amputations and other disfigurements, the following causes are most likely to blame:
Texas amputation and disfigurement laws
The state of Texas has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, including civil lawsuits based on amputation and disfigurement.
Statute of limitations
First of all, Texas has a strict statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. You only have 2 years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. This time limit is shortened to just 6 months if the party responsible for your injuries is a government entity.
If you fail to file within the statute of limitations, you will lose the opportunity for compensation.
Modified comparative fault
In some instances, you may be partially responsible for the accident that led to your amputation or disfigurement. This doesn't necessarily mean that you won't receive compensation; the process just becomes a bit more complicated.
Texas is what's known as a modified comparative fault state. This means that if the court determines that you're partially liable for your accident, your compensation will drop in correlation with how responsible you were. What's more, if your percentage of liability reaches 51% or over, you will no longer be eligible to receive compensation for your damages.
For example, if you're in a car accident and the court determines that you were 25% responsible for your accident, you'll only receive 75% of your total compensation. On the other hand, if you're in a car crash and the court determines that you're 60% at fault, then you're prohibited from receiving any compensation whatsoever.
Statutory damage caps
Finally, Texas has a set of statutory limitations for damages caused by medical malpractice, and many amputation/disfigurement injuries are caused by such malpractice. This cap limits the amount of non-economic damages (i.e. compensation for pain and suffering) you can collect to $250,000 per defendant.
What to do if you've suffered an amputation or disfigurement injury
It can be hard to know how to proceed with a lawsuit if you've been injured. Here are a few steps to take if you've suffered an amputation or disfigurement injury.
- Find an attorney. The first step to filing a claim is finding the right attorney. The attorney you choose should understand the ins and outs of amputation/disfigurement law.
- Gather evidence. Your attorney will take care of most of the investigation, but it's important to keep all documents and records relating to your case. This includes medical records, photographic evidence, and police reports.
- Settling or filing a lawsuit. Once your attorney has determined liability and how much compensation you're owed, it's time to negotiate with the responsible party's insurance. If you both reach a fair agreement, you can settle then and there. If not, you may file a lawsuit and take your case to court.
Taking a case to court is never anyone's first choice. If negotiations don't lead to a settlement right away, you may choose to use the services of a mediator or arbitrator to help you reach an agreement with the other side.
You don't need to face an amputation or disfigurement injury alone. There are many organizations out there that offer support. Here are a few resources to help you get back to life after such a catastrophic accident.
- The Amputee Coalition
- Handling Reactions to Facial Disfigurement
- Options for Covering your Medical Costs after an Accident
- AmPower: Amputee Support Group
- Enjuris' Free Personal Injury Lawyer Directory