Doctors rely on a variety of treatment options when caring for patients. Depending on the type of illness, disease, or injury a patient presents with, it can be appropriate to prescribe medications to treat or alleviate symptoms.
Prescription drugs are not risk-free, though. Every medication has the potential to cause an adverse reaction. Sometimes these reactions are predictable, while in other situations, it would be difficult for a doctor to foresee these types of injuries.
So what does this mean? Can every drug injury lead to a legal claim, or are patients who have been harmed by a medication limited in their right to legal action?
At Shrager & Sachs, we believe that arming our clients with knowledge is the most effective way to help them stand up for their rights. Let’s take a closer look at what a drug injury is and when a person might be entitled to file a legal claim or lawsuit.
What Is a Drug Injury?
A drug injury is an injury caused by a medication, either prescription or over-the-counter. These are injuries that would not have occurred if the victim had not taken or been prescribed the medicine.
Causes of drug injuries can include:
- Dosage errors
- Interaction with another medication
- Unsafe for their current condition (contraindication)
- Drug allergies
- Failure to disclose risks
- Manufacturer error
When used correctly, for the right condition, and in the right dosage, prescription medications can be safe and effective treatment options for a variety of conditions. But when a doctor, pharmacy, manufacturer, or other party makes a mistake, and someone is injured as a result, the victim may have an opportunity for financial recovery.
The Difference Between a Drug Injury and a Drug Side Effect
Drug injuries are different from drug side effects.
Side effects are adverse and unwanted reactions typically known to the developer of the drug. These may range in severity from minor to severe. A single drug may have potential side effects of a runny nose, dry mouth, and liver damage. Patients should be advised of potential side effects as well as the risks and benefits of a given medication before a doctor prescribes it.
On the other hand, drug injuries are not foreseeable. A doctor cannot warn or advise a patient of their risk for a drug injury because it is not a known or expected reaction. These also tend to be much more serious than side effects, sometimes leading to life-threatening complications.
When You Can Sue for a Drug Injury
You may be entitled to file a legal claim for a drug injury if you suffered serious or life-altering injuries after taking a medication as prescribed. Families in Pennsylvania also have a legal standing to file a claim if a loved one was killed by a medication.
Standing up to a drug manufacturer and demanding compensation for what you and your family have been through is not easy, though. These are huge corporations who have teams of attorneys to protect them from liability in cases just like yours.
Shrager & Sachs knows just how confusing this period of time in your life can be. If there’s any uncertainty about your right to hold a drug maker or other party responsible for the harm you’ve suffered, please contact our law office. We’ll schedule you for a confidential case review at no cost to you.
Filing a Lawsuit for Drug Dependency or Addiction
Although different from a lawsuit for a drug injury, patients may have a legal standing to seek compensation if they developed drug dependencies or addictions because of a doctor’s negligent prescribing practices or a manufacturer’s development of addictive properties.
In particular, addiction to or dependency on opioids is a well-documented problem affecting people from all walks of life and backgrounds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdoses have killed at least 564,000 people in the United States between 1999-2020.
Opioids are typically prescribed to treat pain. However, a study entitled “Drug Companies’ Liability for the Opioid Epidemic” published in the National Library of Medicine found that these medications “were defectively designed because companies failed to include safety mechanisms, such as an antagonist agent or tamper-resistant formulation.”
If you or a loved one has been affected by opioid dependency or addiction, please speak with an attorney about your legal rights and options.
Parties Who May Be Liable for a Drug Injury
No two drug injury cases are exactly alike. In one person’s case, there may be just one liable party, while another person might be able to sue multiple defendants.
An in-depth investigation is necessary to identify all potentially liable parties, which may include:
- Drug manufacturers
- Outpatient offices and treatment centers
Prescription Medications That Have Been Linked to Drug Injuries
Compensation for a Drug Injury
The purpose of a drug injury lawsuit is twofold: to hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions and to secure compensation for the victim’s injuries and losses. Compensation in these cases can generally be broken down into economic and non-economic damages, which refer to financial and non-financial losses.
In a drug injury case, economic damages can cover:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning potential
- Rehabilitative services
- Travel costs for care
It is also common to seek some of the following non-economic damages for drug-related injuries:
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and consortium
Families who have lost a loved one due to a drug injury are also entitled to both economic and non-economic compensation, including the cost of funeral and burial expenses.
Taking Legal Action for a Drug Injury
If you or a loved one suffered a drug injury, you have a legal right to hold the at-fault party responsible for the harm they’ve caused. We know that this can be an overwhelming prospect, though, which is why we invite you to schedule a completely free consultation with a dangerous drug attorney from Shrager & Sachs.