Is it possible to put a value on the loss of a lower limb?

16 December 2021

It is a sad statistic that in the 10-year period between 2009-2019, there were 937 compensation cases where a patient lost a limb due to medical negligence.

There are a variety of reasons for this including failing to refer patients for appropriate vascular care or poor diabetic care. In the worst cases, the wrong limb can be amputated by surgeons in situations known as ‘never events’ because they should never happen.

This is a terribly distressing situation for anyone to be in, and people need a lot of care, rehabilitation, specialist physiotherapy and technical equipment to help them get back as close as they can to how they lived before.

Shoosmiths can make a huge difference by ensuring you access rehab as early as possible and you receive the most appropriate prostheses and other necessary equipment and accommodation.

Sharon Banga, a medical negligence specialist solicitor in the Shoosmiths Birmingham office, said:

“Losing your arm or leg is more than the loss of an essential body part, it is also the loss of independence and freedom. It is a devastating injury, physically and psychologically. However, the implementation of an early rehabilitation programme starts the journey along the road to some degree of “normal” life. Therefore, we seek to secure an early admission of liability by ensuring that we instruct the right medical experts to consider whether the amputation was due to negligence and we then strive to achieve an early significant interim payment to enable us to source state of the art prosthetics, specialist physiotherapy and any other urgently needed assistance. This can make a real difference long term.”

How a lower limb amputation claim is valued

No amount of money can make up for the shock and pain of needlessly losing a lower limb above or below the knee, but a compensation award can ensure support is put in place for rehabilitation and to meet any future needs.

Maybe the most important is a suitable prosthetic limb to enable mobility. Modern prosthetic limbs are made of enduring, flexible and easy to handle materials and they can also be colour matched for the individual.

It is impossible to identify the sum that will be compensated at the outset of a case as this depends on the extent of the injury suffered, the support the client needs to lead as independent a life as possible, and whether the Defendant has accepted liability. Evidence from medical experts and other expert witnesses will be required to quantify some aspects of a person’s claim.

Every case must be individually assessed, but generally, the following losses will be claimed in cases where a person has suffered an avoidable amputation:

Care costs

Anyone who has suffered an amputation will require significant care immediately after their amputation and then ongoing care to varying degrees after this depending on their circumstances. A care expert will assess an individual’s needs and set out the cost of a commercial care team to meet this need.

Cost of Therapy

An amputee will often require need specialist physiotherapy, occupational therapy and often some sort of pain management if they suffer from phantom limb pains.

Phantom pains are discomfort in the residual limb which ‘remembers’ when it was cut off or compromised. These pains can recur and can lead to the involvement of pain management specialists and pain management techniques.

Counselling/ Psychiatric assistance

Having to cope with the loss of a limb can understandably be a struggle mentally. It’s important that any compensation allows for counselling, CBT or other types of mental health therapies to be made available.


It is important for someone with a prosthesis to live in a single storey house to ensure safety at all times and to account for potential wheelchair use. The cost of adapting the current home or purchasing suitable accommodation therefore needs to be taken into account.

Equipment and transport

Technological advances mean there are frequently new products available that assist an amputee live more independently. These can range from a different types of prosthetics to environmental controls in the home. If Shoosmiths secures an interim payment for a client after an admission of liability, we can enable access to some of the therapies and other support mentioned whilst the claim continues.

Someone who has lost a limb is also likely to require adaptations to be made to their car or bike or other form of transport to enable them to travel safely. The cost of purchasing and maintaining these items is calculated with the assistance of expert advice.

Loss of earnings

Depending on the circumstances, an amputee may not be able to return to the same job or carry out the same type of work. This will lead to a loss of earnings compared to what they would have been able to earn in their lifetime had the amputation not been required. This loss of income forms part of any compensation.

The injury itself

The claim will include a sum for the amputation itself to reflect an acknowledgement that the person has suffered a significant injury that should have been avoided. We use guidelines and previous reported cases to assess the appropriate level of compensation in each individual case.

If you are concerned that you or a family member has suffered an avoidable amputation, please do contact us with regards to a potential claim.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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