Motorcycle Accident Amputation Injuries

January 2, 2024
By Michael Padway

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Whenever a road accident happens, the extremities are one of the body parts that face the biggest risk of injury. This is particularly true for motorcycle accidents, where the Newtonian forces tend to be greater and where the lack of safety features heightens the risks of an injured appendage.

In the worst-case scenario, it can even result in an amputation.

What is an Amputation?

In medical terms, amputation is the loss of an extremity. This extends to body parts such as:

  • Individual fingers
  • Hands
  • Limbs
  • Toes
  • Foot
  • Leg

Types of amputations include partial, disarticulation at critical joints, or complete severance of the whole portion or limb.

Scenarios that Involve Amputation

Not all incidents of amputation are caused by the initial crash. It can happen during the post-accident phase, or even in the hospital if the patient’s life is at risk.

Accident phase – When a limb or extremity gets irreversibly damaged during the impact.

Recovery phase – When the victim is pinned or stuck, and extraction requires amputation.

Irreparable damage – If the body part is mangled enough that limb surgery and rehabilitation are not possible.

Complications – If the injured part develops complications and risks infecting the rest of the patient’s body, such as gangrene.

What to do in Accidents that Involve Amputation

Motorcycle accidents that result in severed limbs are one of the worst-case scenarios, short of traumatic head injury. In such situations:

  • Apply immediate pressure to the wound to stem the blood flow.
  • Use a handkerchief, bandana, or piece of clothing to fashion a tourniquet.
  • If a body part has been severed, take note of its location or have it retrieved, in case it can be surgically re-attached. 
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends covering the severed body part in a moistened gauze wrap and storing it in a sealed bag. While it’s ideal to keep it cool, it should never be in direct contact with ice.
  • Elevate the amputated part and remain calm to limit blood loss from the wound.

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What Happens After the Accident

1. Surgical phase – there are four possible outcomes:

Limb surgery – The body part is only partially detached and may still be repaired or regrafted back to the limb.
Reattachment – The body part was completely severed, but may still be reattached. This is generally successful for minor amputated parts such as fingers or toes.
Surgical removal – If the limb is completely crushed or mangled, doctors may have to amputate it from the stump to prevent infection and gangrene from spreading to the rest of the body.
Transplant surgery – There have been successful cases of hand and even double-leg transplants in recent years. However, it should be noted that these are outliers. The outcome rests on the patient’s financial capacity, the ability to find a donor, the body’s immunosuppressive reaction, and many other factors.

2. Physical therapy

For successful reattachments or transplants, patients face a long period of physical therapy sessions to restore basic and fine motor movement.

For amputees, they face the hard road to rehabilitation. This involves learning to function minus the missing limb, and psychological therapy.

3. Aftercare

Reattachment cases still require extensive aftercare, since there is always the danger of an immune reaction. There’s also no guarantee that tactile senses or fine motor skills will return in the reattached part.

For their part, amputees will be fitted with a prosthetic device that will require periodic refitting or replacement. They may also need lifelong medication depending on the severity of the injury.

Post-surgery care can be a very delicate period. About 23% of amputees of a lower extremity part are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.

The Costs of Amputation

According to one medical study in 2007, reconstructive or reattachment surgery cost just over $81,000, while amputation operations cost $91,000 on average.

For long-term medical expenses, reattached patients had a projected lifetime healthcare cost of around $164,000, while amputees faced 3x higher bills at almost $510,000.

In addition to long-term medical expenses, victims of motorcycle accidents that result in amputation may be eligible to claim:

  • Property damage
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Disability benefits
  • Disfigurement
  • Lost quality of life

The inability to ride a motorcycle is just one of the sad consequences of amputation. For most victims, it results in life-altering changes that can severely impact their career, lifestyle, and relationships. In case of an accident that results in amputation, consult with a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer. They can help you recover all possible damages so you can worry less about compensation and focus on recovery and adapting to a new lifestyle.

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Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

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