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How Do I File a Dangerous Drug Claim?

How Do I File a Dangerous Drug Claim?

In a world where pharmaceuticals provide life-changing solutions for countless individuals, there exists a less applauded side of the story – some drugs lead to more harm than good. For injury victims suffering a medication’s unexpected side effects, the aftereffects can be costly and disorienting.

After suffering harm by an unsafe or defective prescription or over-the-counter medication, you likely wonder what steps to take to begin seeking compensation for your losses. The process of filing a dangerous drug claim can be intimidating and riddled with uncertainty, especially because it often involves large pharmaceutical corporations.

You need to work with a product liability attorney who has experience with dangerous drug claims and can advise you on your rights and take the right course of action.

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The Basis for Filing a Dangerous Drug Claim

Before pursuing a compensation claim, you need to ensure that you have the basis for filing it. Three types of defects can form the basis of dangerous drug cases.

1. Design Defects

Pharmaceutical drugs are meticulously designed, or at least they should be. However, when a medication’s very design poses a threat to consumers, the results can be devastating. Design defects are inherent flaws that existed before a drug even hit the market, victimizing consumers with potentially life-altering side effects.

  • Example: Despite thorough lab testing, a pain relief medication with an unintended design flaw causes severe kidney malfunctions in individuals with a specific genetic marker. Victims who used it for a mere week are left with irreparable damage.

2. Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects arise during the process of producing and delivering the drug. They are typically unintended deviations from the drug’s intended design. Such defects can result from contamination, errors in production, or issues during shipping and handling.

  • Example: A batch of insulin is contaminated with a foreign substance during manufacturing, causing adverse reactions in diabetic patients. It will be categorized as a manufacturing defect because the drug deviating from its intended composition causes harm.

3. Failure to Warn

Beyond design and manufacturing, pharmaceutical companies must inform consumers about potential risks associated with their products. When this crucial step is neglected, it can lead to a “failure to warn” claim. As the name implies, failure to warn involves a drug coming to market without proper warnings or instructions about its safe use. It can include inadequate labels, insufficient instructions, or a lack of information regarding potential side effects.

  • Example: A sleep aid that leads to allergic reactions in older patients. Suppose the potential for an allergic response was known but not adequately disclosed on the drug’s label or marketing materials. In that case, the patients who suffered harm can pursue compensation through a dangerous drug claim.

Who Can You File a Dangerous Drug Claim Against?

Dangerous Drug ClaimContrary to popular belief, liability does not end with the drug manufacturer. You may also name other parties in the distribution chain as defendants when pursuing a dangerous drug claim. Depending on the specifics of your case, potentially liable parties may include:

  • Pharmaceutical company. These giants are responsible for developing, manufacturing, and marketing the drug. If negligence, misleading marketing, or lack of proper warning of side effects occurred, you may have grounds for a dangerous drug claim. For example, if a company knowingly pushed a drug onto the market without sufficient testing, and it later led to harmful side effects, they can be held liable.
  • Drug manufacturer. While the pharmaceutical company may oversee the strategic development and directions for the drug, it may not produce the drug. Pharmaceutical companies often contract with a separate entity – known as the manufacturer – to produce medications. If defects in the manufacturing process lead to issues in product safety, the manufacturer can be solely responsible. These claims typically fall under the category of product liability. For example, a drug might include a medication having an unusually high concentration of a particular ingredient that causes harm to consumers.
  • A laboratory testing the drug before it was approved for sale. Before a new drug can hit pharmacy shelves, it must undergo rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. Any claims against the pre-approval laboratory usually center on their failure to detect potential dangers. Errors in clinical trials, such as a failure to report harmful side effects or inadequate testing, can make the laboratory responsible. An example would be an anti-nausea drug that is marketed as safe for use in pregnancy but leads to countless birth defects.
  • Physicians prescribing the drug. Medical professionals are a trusted source for many people. They often serve as the “middlemen” between patients and drugs. However, if a doctor prescribes a medication known to cause harm or is inappropriately administered or monitored, they can be liable for damages. An example can be a physician prescribing a medication to a patient despite known allergic reactions that cause severe harm to the patient.
  • The hospital that provided the treatment. The hospital providing the drug or treatment can be named the defendant in a claim. It can be held responsible if the facility fails to properly administer the medication, provide adequate warnings, or maintain the proper health standards. For example, incorrectly labeling a drug administered to the wrong patient can lead to a lawsuit against the hospital. Statistically speaking, up to 9,000 Americans die as a result of medication errors every year.
  • The pharmacy filling the prescription. Pharmacies are the last checkpoint before a drug is given to a patient. Any missteps by the pharmacists or pharmacy staff in dispensing drugs, such as mislabeling, providing the wrong dosage, or failing to warn about potential drug interactions, can lead to patient harm and liability. An example is when a pharmacy dispenses the correct medication but with the incorrect dosage instructions, leading to accidental overdose or underdose.
  • The pharmaceutical sales rep of the drug company. While not directly involved in the manufacture or testing of a drug, pharmaceutical sales reps promote drugs to physicians. If a rep provides inaccurate information about a drug’s safety or efficacy or encourages off-label uses without sufficient data, they can be held accountable. For example, if a sales rep downplays the risk of specific side effects or the addictive nature of a drug, and this leads to patient harm; as a result, the sales rep can be held accountable.

In many cases, only an in-depth analysis will reveal all liable parties when a person suffers harm caused by a prescription or over-the-counter drug. That is why you should consider working with an experienced product liability attorney who can help determine liability and pursue all possible sources of compensation.

The Process of Filing a Dangerous Drug Claim

If you or someone you love suffered harm due to the use of an unsafe prescription or over-the-counter medication, there are many steps to obtain compensation and receive the justice you deserve. Here’s an overview of this process of filing a dangerous drug claim and recovering the right amount of compensation:

  • Consult a dangerous drug lawyer. Before filing a compensation claim, the first step is consulting an attorney with experience in pharmaceutical litigation. Your attorney will conduct a preliminary evaluation of your case, considering the nature of your injuries and the drug in question. Your attorney’s experience can help reveal any existing legal precedents relevant to your situation. This initial assessment will help you understand the strength of your case and the potential outcomes of pursuing a claim.
  • Gather medical records, bills, and receipts. Start by gathering all medical records of the injury caused by the dangerous drug. It may include doctor’s notes, test results, and other documentation supporting your claim. Keep track of all expenses related to the injury and consider making copies of each receipt. The goal is to amass a comprehensive file of evidence that will be used to substantiate your claim when negotiations or trials begin.
  • Preserve the drug that caused you harm. If possible, preserve the actual drug that caused the harm. Store it in a safe place, preferably in a sealed, labeled bag or container, to prevent tampering or contamination. You can hire experts to analyze the drug to identify its formulation, packaging, or labeling issues. It can further strengthen your dangerous drug claim.
  • Identify liable parties. Before you file a dangerous drug claim, you must know who to file the claim against. It requires you to identify the parties that may be legally responsible for your injury. As discussed earlier, potentially liable particles include the pharmaceutical company, the drug manufacturer, the prescribing physician, the pharmacist who filled the prescription, or any other individual or entity involved in the distribution chain. After identifying the liable parties, you and your attorney can develop a strategy for pursuing your claim against them.
  • Have your attorney prove the link between the drug and the harm you suffered. Proving causation – or, in other words, the link between the drug and the harm it has caused – is one of the most challenging aspects of filing a dangerous drug claim. In most cases, this requires presenting strong medical and scientific evidence, which may involve testimony from expert witnesses. To strengthen the connection, your attorney can also research prior cases, scientific studies, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports.
  • Document your damages. In personal injury law, damages refer to the harm suffered due to someone else’s negligence. In the context of filing a dangerous drug claim, this means damages suffered due to the drug in question. Document any medical expenses, loss of income, diminished earning capacity, physical pain, emotional distress, and any other impacts your injury has caused. Be meticulous during this step, as this will form the basis of the compensation you seek in your claim.
  • Draft and send a demand letter to the liable party. The demand letter is a formal document outlining the injury, the cause, and the damages you are seeking. Submitting the letter to the liable party is a critical part of the negotiation process, as it officially begins the pursuit of compensation. The letter lets the liable party settle the claim before you and your attorney pursue legal action.
  • Initiate a lawsuit against the liable party. The next step is litigation if you and the other party cannot reach a mutually acceptable settlement. To initiate a lawsuit, your attorney will prepare the complaint against the liable party. The complaint is filed with the appropriate court and served to the defendant, officially starting the case. Lawsuits are subject to the statute of limitations, a time restriction for initiating legal action that varies from state to state. In California, the statute of limitations for any personal injury claim is two years from the date of injury or four years if the case involves a breach of written contract claim.
  • Participate in discovery and other pre-trial proceedings. The discovery phase begins when you file a lawsuit. This is the process where each party collects and shares evidence with the other. You may be required to answer questions under oath, provide documentation, and participate in depositions. During pre-trial proceedings, your attorney will also work to exclude any evidence detrimental to your case and prepare for trial.
  • Attend trial. The case will proceed to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement during pre-trial negotiation or through alternative dispute resolution methods. Your product liability attorney will present the evidence and arguments to a judge and jury, while the other party and their legal team will defend themselves against your claims.

If your case is headed to a trial, you need to know that trials can be lengthy and complicated. For this reason, you need the right skilled attorney to guide you through the process. Without an experienced dangerous drug litigator, you risk losing your case and leaving the courtroom without compensation.

Consult a Product Liability Lawyer Right Away

If you believe you suffered injuries due to a dangerous drug, never wait to learn about your legal rights. Going up against major corporations with deep pockets, insurers, and legal teams is challenging. You need an advocate who will not back down, so seek your free consultation as soon as possible with a personal injury attorney near you.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!