According to the Book of Quantum, I am likely to receive up to €142,000 in compensation for a wrong hand amputation. As I still have to have the other hand amputated to prevent a disease spreading, this does not seem like a fair settlement. Is this right?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Rather than refer to the Book of Quantum to look up the value of compensation for a wrong hand amputation, it would be in your best interests to speak with a solicitor.

Assuming that your claim for having the wrong hand amputated is due to a terrible medical error, your solicitor would assess the value of your claim based on the specific circumstances of the case and the impact the medical error has had on your quality of life, or may have in the future.

Indeed, the Book of Quantum to which you refer actually states in its introduction that “assessments will not be rigid and will have full regard to each individual case” and the figures contained within should be considered a guide to how much compensation for amputating the wrong hand you may be entitled to, rather than a source of reference.

In a case such as yours, where there is no defence against the injury which you have suffered, an investigation will still have to be carried out to establish how the wrong hand was amputated. It is often not the fault of the surgeon who conducted the operation, and liability may lie with one of the support team or even an administration who made an error preparing the theatre notes.

In order to put this process in motion, you should allow your solicitor to write a ‘Letter of Complaint’ to the hospital at which your negligent surgery took place and, once further information is available regarding how the medical error occurred, your solicitor should follow that up with a ‘Letter of Claim’ to officially claim compensation for a wrong hand amputation.

No mention of how much compensation for amputating the wrong hand is mentioned in the ‘Letter of Claim’ – indeed the full circumstances of this tragic mistake may not yet be known. Instead, your solicitor and a number of medical experts will work closely with you to determine:-

  • The level of physical injury that has been sustained. This would include having to go through a second operation to remove the ‘correct’ hand and the deterioration in your health should the disease in your hand spread during the intervening period.
  • How much you are ‘inconvenienced’ by your incapacity. This factor is usually referred to as a ‘loss of amenity’ and covers the non-financial changes to your life that you will have to make to account for having both hands amputated rather than one.
  • The level of psychological injury you have already experienced and may experience in the future. No matter how quickly a prosthetic hand is fitted to replace the one removed in error, the full extent of the emotional trauma you are suffering may never be fully realised.
  • The financial cost of your injury. This element of a claim for having the wrong hand amputated would take into account any expenses you have incurred due to the medical error – not just the cost of medical aids (such as prosthetic hands), but also any income you have lost through not being able to work. If you are a relatively young person who will be unable to work again because of the medical error, this element alone could be far in excess of the €142,000 you quote in your question.

There may be other areas of your life which are affected by the amputation of the wrong hand and not included in the above list. Therefore, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor to get an accurate assessment of how much compensation for amputating the wrong hand you may be entitled to and, in order to get the process in motion to make a claim for having the wrong hand amputated, you should contact a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.