"Ask your doctor..." is advice that we hear quite frequently, related to all kinds of health and lifestyle choices. Thinking of starting a new exercise routine? Ask your doctor. Considering trying a new diet? Ask your doctor. Naturally, we tend to believe that the medical advice and care plans we receive from our physicians should be our main source of truth for personal healthcare decisions. What if the care plan we are given is sound, but something that our doctor may be relying upon--such as a pharmaceutical drug or medical device--is not? Defective drugs and devices have caused devastating illnesses and injuries to thousands of Americans, resulting in significantly increased medical costs for victims and their families. What recourse do these victims have if a medical condition is made worse by the drug or device intended to treat it?
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
A claim related to a defective drug or medical device is a type of personal injury claim. A personal injury claim is when a party (or their representatives) who has suffered an injury brings a lawsuit against another party (or group of parties) who may be responsible for the injury. The person bringing the lawsuit is typically referred to as a plaintiff. If the plaintiff is successful in a personal injury claim, he or she will be awarded damages. Damages is a term for a sum of money that the court has determined appropriate for the specifics of the case. Most damages in these types of cases are compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to put an injured party back into the position he or she would have been before the injury. Compensatory damages are generally divided into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are losses that are easily calculated. These can include things such as past medical expenses, estimated future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, home modifications, and much more. Non-economic damages are losses that are not so easily calculated. These can include things such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship. Certain states have regulations on the total amount of non-economic damages which may be awarded to a plaintiff. These caps may cover all personal injury cases, or there might be specific caps related to specific kinds of personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice; for example, the state of Maryland caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims.
Punitive damages are another type of damages which can be awarded in a personal injury case, though they rarely are. This sum is not intended to make the plaintiff whole; it is a financial punishment for the party at fault. These types of damages may be awarded when the finder of fact has determined that the behavior of the defendant was especially egregious. Different jurisdictions have different standards for when punitive damages may be awarded.
Class Action Lawsuits
A personal injury lawsuit that involves one claim by one plaintiff against one defendant can be fairly straightforward. However, often in the case of defective medical drugs and devices, which have the potential to harm large groups of individuals, a group of victims with similar injuries may come together to bring a claim against the party (or parties) potentially responsible. In this type of case, compensation is awarded to the group in a large sum and that total amount will be divided up among individual claimants.
Defective Drugs and Device Injuries
Pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices are incredibly diverse, and therefore capable of causing a diverse range of injuries. These can include sudden, acute medical events such as a stroke or heart attack, but they can also include chronic diseases such as cancer. Injuries caused by drugs or devices may require a one-time medical intervention to correct the damage caused, or they may require lifelong care. As such, the total costs incurred by a victim (and/or the family of a victim) may vary greatly. Even a one-time hospital stay can cost thousands of dollars, and additional medical services, such as testing and surgery, can easily make this figure jump to tens of thousands, if not more. Lifetime medical care represents a significant financial impact on victims and their families for decades.
Defective Drugs and Device Compensation
Just as the injuries that they cause, the compensation that will be involved in the case of any particular defective drug or device might vary greatly. However, the best way to lessen the financial impact that a defective drug or device may have on a victim's life is via a successful personal injury lawsuit or settlement. As part of a lawsuit, your attorney will consult with an expert who will thoroughly review the details of your case, including your medical records, your prognosis, employment records, and much more in order to determine an amount that would be sufficient to cover the losses that you have already suffered and that you may suffer in the future.
When a loved one has died due to a defective drug or device, family members may be eligible to bring a lawsuit. A lawsuit of this nature may ask that the responsible party compensate family members for expenses such as medical bills, funeral costs, and other sums which have already been paid, but also future losses, such as the deceased's earnings, or loss of companionship for grieving family members.
Defective Drugs and Device Representation
Dealing with the aftermath of a defective drug or device can be daunting. Recovery should be your main focus, but financial concerns can often cause additional stress and anxiety, especially if you have already incurred medical costs. Our team has decades of experience and the extensive resources required to aggressively pursue cases, even against defendants with deep pockets. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.