What you need to know about amputation and disfigurement injuries and how you can recover compensation in Texas
Written by: Enjuris Editors
Amputations or disfigurements, regardless of where they are or how severe, are devastating. The initial accident is traumatizing, and you are 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 amputation or loss of limb to sue for their damages, both economic and non-economic.
We're taking a look at what makes an amputation or disfigurement injury, filing a lawsuit, and receiving compensation to help.
What is considered amputation or disfigurement?
Disfigurement is any damage done to an individual's soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, skin, etc.) or bones. Damage caused by disfigurement is permanent, meaning that those parts of the body are never quite the same after the accident. This could include nerve damage, severe scarring or burns, or other changes in appearance. Amputation is also considered disfigurement.
An amputation injury refers to limb removal, whether that's an arm, finger, or foot. This removal is typically caused by trauma of some sort or a medical emergency. Those that have endured an amputation disfigurement are forced to relearn life through their recovery.
Both amputation and other forms of disfigurement are considered catastrophic injuries. This means that they are among the most devastating for victims because they require a lifetime of recovery and rehabilitation.
What makes amputation and disfigurement cases different?
Because of the severe nature of amputation or 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.
Additionally, determining whose negligence is responsible for your injuries is another difficult matter. Numerous parties could have caused the accident including other drivers, doctors committing medical malpractice, or the manufacturer of a defective product. The list goes on, and investigating these avenues makes amputation and disfigurement cases complicated.
Determining fault and the amount of damages suffered can make amputation/disfigurement cases more complex than others.
Texas laws for amputation and disfigurement cases
The state of Texas has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, including amputation and disfigurement, and they could significantly impact your claim.
First of all, Texas has a strict statute of limitations for filing claims. The state gives you two years from the date of your accident to file. This time limit is shortened, however, if the negligent party responsible for your injuries is a government entity. Then the statute of limitations drops to six months. If you fail to file within the statute of limitations, you will lose the opportunity for compensation.
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 is known as a comparative fault state. This means that, if you are determined to be partially liable, your compensation will drop in correlation with how responsible you were. For example, if you are in a car accident and you are determined to have been 25% responsible, you will only receive 75% of your total compensation.
If your percentage of liability reaches 51% or over, you will no longer be eligible to receive compensation for your damages.
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. for pain and suffering) you can collect to $250,000 per defendant.
Enjuris Tip: Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic damage, meaning its cost is not monetary for the victim. Most use a multiplier to figure up this number. Learn more in our article on calculating pain and suffering.
All Law offers great explanations for each of these Texas laws.
Steps to take 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 an expert attorney that understands the ins and outs of amputation/disfigurement law. You should choose an attorney that you feel comfortable with and who has a full understanding of Texas law.
Gather evidence. Your attorney will take care of most of the investigation, but it's important to gather all documents and records relating to your case. This includes medical information/services, any photographic evidence, or police reports.
Settling or filing a lawsuit. Once your attorney has determined liability and how much compensation you are 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 for a judge to determine the outcome.
Taking a case to court is never anyone's first choice. If negotiations do not lead to a settlement right away, many choose to use the services of a mediator or arbitrator to help both sides reach an agreement without having to face expensive court costs and an extended timeline. However, sometimes going to court is the only way to reach a sure decision.
Enjuris tip: Personal injury cases can take longer than you may think. Read further to have a look at a timeline for when you may receive your compensation.
After an amputation or disfigurement accident, it's hard to know where to turn for support especially when friends and family may not understand what you're feeling. Here are a few resources to help you get back to life after such a catastrophic accident.