Drug and Medical Device Lawsuit

Consumers trust medications and medical devices to help them, not hurt them. If a drug or device failed and harmed you, recovering damages and holding accountable the companies responsible are important. This may mean filing a drug and medical device lawsuit, a step a lawyer can help you take.

What is a Drug and Medical Device Lawsuit?

This is a lawsuit you may choose to file to recover damages from a defendant responsible for the harm you suffered after using a faulty, defective, or improperly marketed medical device or medication. The defendant is typically the manufacturer or drug company responsible for the product.

A drug and medical device lawsuit is a case of product liability. If a product is defective and causes harm, the party responsible can be held liable for damages, even without proving intent or negligence. If they made the product, and it harmed you, they are liable.

Types of Drug and Medical Device Lawsuits

If you have suffered an injury or other types of harm because of a device or a drug, you can take legal action to recover damages. There are several types of claims you may make against defendants:[1]

  • Defective design. The inherent design of a medical device may cause harm. Because the testing requirements are limited for new devices, design flaws are often discovered too late, after a patient has suffered injuries or illness.
  • Dangerous side effects. Drugs go through more rigorous testing, but side effects can still cause serious harm. In some cases, the side effects in question may not be discovered until years after approval. In other cases, the drug company knew about them and failed to warn the public.
  • Defective manufacturing. Both drugs and devices may become dangerous with defects in the manufacturing process. An otherwise safe device may cause harm due to a manufacturing error or damage caused somewhere between manufacturing and patient use. This category also includes drugs—contamination with other drugs, improper labeling, or any other error between making the drug and patient use.
  • Defective marketing. When companies improperly market a device or a drug, they may cause harm to patients. This may include “failure to warn,” one of the most common claims in drug lawsuits. In marketing a drug or a device, the company may fail to warn of side effects, make claims about effectiveness that are not true, or provide bad advice to prescribers.

How Does a Lawyer Prove Negligence in Drug and Medical Lawsuits?

How your lawyer will approach your case depends on the situation. Most instances of harm involving devices and drugs are product liability cases. This is a type of personal injury that follows strict liability. The burden of proof on you, the plaintiff, is lower than in other kinds of personal injury cases.

With strict liability, you do not have to prove negligence or that a party was directly at fault for injuries. If the party, such as a drug manufacturer, made the medication that harmed you without adequate warning, they are liable. That they did not intend to cause harm does not matter.[1]

Although the burden of proof is lower, these cases can get complicated. Drug and device companies have big, powerful legal teams fighting to reduce payments to victims or to deny they owe anything at all.

Who Is Liable in My Lawsuit?

Your lawyer’s target as a defendant in the lawsuit depends on your situation and claim type. Whether your injury resulted from a design flaw, a manufacturing mistake, or dishonest marketing is a big factor in liability.

The Manufacturer

Many of these cases target the company that designed and made the medical device or drug. These are large companies with high-powered legal teams. They can also provide significant compensation if your lawyer can prove they are liable for your damages.

A Testing Firm

Somewhere along the pathway from manufacture to market, a device or drug has been tested. A company that tested the product may be liable if you can trace the flaw to its steps in the process. The company may be liable along with the manufacturer.

Sales Representatives

Pharmaceutical and medical sales reps meet with physicians and other medical professionals to convince them to sell their products on to you, the patient. There is nothing inherently wrong with this unless they make false claims or other mistakes that lead to your damages.

Doctors or Hospitals

The people and facilities providing your medical care could fall into the pool of defendants for recommending a device or drug that caused you harm. Your lawyer can help you understand if they are liable for damages caused by the product or if you have a case of medical malpractice, another type of lawsuit.

Pharmacy or Supplier

A pharmacy selling medications and suppliers selling medical devices are the last stop on the distribution chain before physicians. They may be partly liable for selling a product that proved harmful or defective.

When Should I File a Medical Device and Drug Lawsuit?

All personal injury lawsuits are restricted by a statute of limitations. These time limits, which begin with the injury, vary by state from one to six years. Talk to a lawyer as soon as you suspect a drug or device has harmed you. In medical cases like these, exceptions may provide more time, but don’t take that risk.

How Do I File a Lawsuit?

To file a drug or device lawsuit, talk to an experienced lawyer. A lawyer will first try to negotiate a settlement on your behalf, which could provide adequate compensation in less time. If the legal teams for the defendants refuse to settle or do not offer enough, you may want to take the next step.

A lawsuit begins with filing a complaint to notify the defendants and to outline your allegations. After both sides investigate and collect evidence, the defendants may see that they could lose in a trial. This may push them to settle.

If the settlement fails, you can take your case to court before a jury. Your lawyer will push for maximum damages, and jury awards are often larger than settlements. The risk, of course, is that the jury will not decide in your favor. Your lawyer can provide advice, but ultimately the choice of which legal actions to take is yours.

A drug and medical device lawsuit is a big step, but it is often necessary to recover damages. Big companies that make these products will hesitate to pay settlements. You may need the lawsuit, with the help of a good lawyer, to get the compensation you deserve and need. 

  1. Cornell Law School. Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Products Liability.
    Retrieved from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/products_liability