Unsuspecting people falling victim to injuries due to the use of dangerous and/or defective drugs is a harsh reality that not often spoken about. Even though such cases are rare (fortunately), they aren’t unheard of. Imagine this: You’re not feeling well, so you see a doctor and buy the prescribed medicines – only to realize that more misery is in store for you because of them. No one deserves such suffering.
While such situations are not completely unavoidable, the victim can take legal measures to bring the culprits to justice.
If you (or a loved one) have been injured or harmed in any way by a pharmaceutical drug that you used, then you can file a defective products claim. Defective/dangerous pharmaceutical drugs can be subjected to product liability claims, and have a number of special features that other product liability claims don’t. Read on to learn more.
1. Product Liability Claims for Pharmaceutical Drugs
Three kinds of claims fall under this category. They are claims based on:
a. Defectively Manufactured Pharmaceutical Drugs
These claims encompass injuries caused by drugs with manufacturing defects due to any reason related to an error at the manufacturing plant or the pharmacy where the drug was produced/bottled, or a process/handling error during labeling and/or shipping. Simply put, this claim can involve any situation wherein an error is made at any point between the manufacturing plant and the drug store/outlet.
b. Pharmaceutical Drugs with Dangerous Side-Effects
These claims refer to pharmaceutical drugs that have been properly manufactured but have resulted in side-effects, which have led to an injury. Such cases can also involve drugs that have been sold for a while before it was discovered that they can aggravate/give rise to injuries or health conditions. Many a time, victims claim that the titbit about the side-effect was deliberately veiled by the manufacturer. If a victim can prove this claim in court, he/she stands to receive higher compensation in the form of punitive damages.
c. Improperly Marketed Pharmaceutical Drugs
This relates to the warnings, instructions, or recommendations with respect to the use of the concerned drug. The claim involves injuries as a result of inadequate or inaccurate warnings about the side-effects of the drug. It also covers injuries caused due to insufficient instructions regarding the proper use of the drug. The lack of this important information can be blamed on the manufacturer, doctor, pharmacist, sales representative, or other medical providers.
2. The Defendants
A defective/dangerous drug lawsuit can include any one or a combination of the above claims. Every different claim may involve different defendants, such as:
Typically, large pharmaceutical companies frequently develop and release new drugs on the market. This can be good for the victim if he/she is seeking compensation for suffering injuries. However, these companies also retain high-profile lawyers to defend such cases.
If you saw a doctor who prescribed the drug that injured you, you may also be liable for injuries, as doctors are part of the chain of distribution of the drug. Further, the doctor may also be liable by not warning you about the potential side-effects, or due to providing insufficient instructions about using the drug properly. Plus, you may also have a claim for medical malpractice against the doctor.
Starting from the manufacturer up until when you obtain the prescription, the pharmacy is probably the final point in the chain of distribution of a drug. The pharmacist’s counseling regarding the use of the drug that injured you may establish the pharmacy’s liability.
Any hospital and/or clinic that fell in the distribution chain between the manufacturer of the drug and your use of the drug may be liable for your injuries.
e. Testing Laboratory
Before a drug reaches and injures you, it undergoes a range of tests and then hits the market. In your complaint, you can include any of the test laboratories as defendants, particularly if they are connected with the manufacturer.
f. Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives
Sales representatives often act as the bridge between pharmaceutical companies and doctors or other members of the medical fraternity. They are the people who push the latest drug by recommending it to healthcare providers. Such representatives may be liable if it is found that they recommended the drug that injured you.
3. How to Prove Your Claim
In order to win your lawsuit, you will need to prove the following:
- You were injured by the drug
- The drug you consumed was defective, with dangerous side-effects that you weren’t warned about
- The drug you consumed was improperly marketed
- One or all of the above was the cause of your injury
4. Filing the Lawsuit
Be mindful of the following important factors before filing a drug lawsuit in court:
a. Statute of Limitations
The legalities of defective/dangerous drug-related lawsuits vary from state to state. Every state has a certain set statute of limitations which, simply put, translates into the time limit on bringing the product liability claim. It is, therefore, advisable to find out the statute of limitations in the state where you’re filing your claim. An experienced drug lawsuit lawyer can be your best ally if you find yourself grappling with such a situation.
b. Class Action Lawsuits
If you are a victim of injuries due to a commonly prescribed drug, chances are high that there are several others in the same boat as you. If you happen to come across any, you can team up with them and file a class action lawsuit.
There may be cases where you may find that a class action has already been filed against the drug responsible for your injuries. You can join this lawsuit and avail the following benefits:
- The lawyer representing the class action may have substantial experience and proficiency in dealing with cases against big companies, and he/she will represent your case too.
- The costs involved will be negligible.
- The complicated process of filing/fighting for your claim will become a lot simpler.
- Alternatively, you can file your own lawsuit instead of joining an existing class action lawsuit. This may be particularly helpful if your injuries are significantly different from those suffered by the rest of the people in the class action, or other special circumstances, if any.
Dealing with cases involving the use of defective and dangerous drugs can be tricky. There are several aspects to be taken into consideration. Such experiences can leave your faith in doctors and drug companies shaken. You deserve justice, and you want to make sure that you get it. A skilled and competent drug lawsuit lawyer will be your best bet in court. Hire a good one and you will increase the likelihood of receiving a fair ruling and rightful compensation.
Melissa Schmid is Office Manager and Senior Paralegal with the McEwen Law Firm. She has 20 years of strong litigation and trial experience, along with several years of administrative and human resource experience. She secures staff, provides the highest level of quality legal services to customers, while dealing with her own clients and litigations. She spends her leisure time with family and enjoys doing home-remodeling activities.