I'm very sorry to hear you had such a devastating experience with you table saw. From the description of your injury, I would guess you were trying to feed the work while holding it without the benefit of a push stick. Cutting a taper such as you described is best done with the aid of a carrier board jig, where the work is secured to the board at the desired taper angle, and the fence is set for the amount of stock to shave off. I know this doesn't help you much now, but I think a mind set of safety first will alway be preferable to the best designed blade guard or safety device. Next time, take a moment and dry run the cut if it is an unfamiliar one- trust your instinct; if it doesn't feel right, it probably ain't. Find an alternative way to do it.
I hope you have a full recovery, and continue to enjoy your craft. Hank Metz