Damage to Prosthetic Limbs Considered Property Damage or Personal Injury?

Technological advancements have raised an important question in the field of personal injury. Personal injury has referred to an injury to the body, mind, or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. However, when it comes to prosthetic limbs, determining whether or not damages suffered are to be considered property damage or personal injury has become blurred.

The University of Oxford recently held a conference entitled “Human Enhancement and the Law: Regulating for the Future” which highlighted the point that most laws do not reflect the technological advances which are bridging the gap between mechanical and biological. The main argument made at this conference was that legal responses to damages that treat it simply as property damage may be inadequate in terms of the personal injury done.

There are certain things to consider when categorizing prostheses as part of the body. For instance the fact that they are not a part of the person at birth, they are constructed of metal and plastic and that they are not made from human tissue. Prostheses do not contain DNA and are replaceable. On the other hand, advocates argue that prostheses become part of the human body, not just physically, technologically, and neurologically, but psychologically.

Prosthetic limbs are directly communicating with the human nervous system and therefore are technically a part of the body. Osseointegration is when the metal or ceramic part of the implant or prostheses is placed into the bone, in which case the bone attaches itself, growing all around it, and supporting it firmly. Body parts respond because of electrical signals originating in the muscle, much like prosthetic limbs are currently responding. It’s difficult to continue considering prosthetic devices as property damage when a prosthetic limb functions the same way a biological limb does. Once it’s categorized as a personal injury, responsible parties can be subject to higher penalties and entitle victims to greater compensation.

If you have suffered an injury to your body or a prosthetic limb, contact Herrman & Herrman and speak to an experienced attorney. You can stop by our office at 1201 Third St. or give us a call at 361-82-4357 to schedule a free consultation.

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