Every year, pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs that have the potential to treat and cure a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. While advances in medicine can save lives, these powerful medications are not without their side effects. When a prescription drug causes an injury, the people harmed by those medications may sue for compensation.
If a medication injured you or a loved one, contact an experienced North Port dangerous drugs lawyer like the attorneys at Boohoff Law to learn more about your legal actions. Call for your free claim evaluation now.
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Companies create hundreds of new medications each year. Before selling them to the American public, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve the medications. The FDA’s approval process is extensive. After the scientists create the medication, they must perform multiple clinical trials to show the drug’s efficacy and document any side effects. The medicine developers then submit their clinical trial evidence to the FDA.
The FDA will assess the strength of the clinical trials and will require the manufacturer to address any concerns it has. The FDA may also order the manufacturer to conduct additional clinical trials or may hold hearings on worries about the drug. Once the FDA is satisfied, the company can present the drug to the market. The FDA will continue monitoring the performance of the medication and may order follow-up studies.
The FDA approval process is lengthy. For most medications, the process from the invention of the drug to FDA approval takes around ten years. However, most of that time is spent in development and conducting trials in preparation for FDA approval. Once the medication reaches Phase III clinical trials, which is the final stage before FDA review, it generally takes six months to a year for the medication to reach the public.
The time for FDA approval allows the government to address many problems with new prescription medications before doctors prescribe them to individuals.
Nevertheless, the FDA approval process is not perfect. Some dangerous medications slip through, and sometimes devastating side effects are unknown until years after FDA approval. As a result, prescription medications that the FDA approves can still be a basis for a lawsuit when the drug causes an injury.
Almost all medications can have adverse side effects under the right circumstances. Even over-the-counter medications like aspirin cause thousands of injuries and deaths every year. Not all side effects can be the basis for a lawsuit. When a condition is a known side effect of the drug a patient is taking, and the patient was advised about that risk, the side effect can be an acceptable consequence of medication.
In prescription medications, side effects may be legally actionable in several circumstances. Generally, side effects may be actionable when their impact is worse than the condition the drug was supposed to treat. Additionally, if a side effect was unknown but the FDA approved the drug, patients who later develop that side effect may have a case. Finally, if a doctor or pharmacist’s error led to the patient taking a medication with dangerous side effects, the injured person can also sue.
When a person suffers an injury due to a dangerous drug, the people or entities responsible depend on the circumstances in each case. Multiple parties may have liability for the injury, depending on how the drug caused it. In most cases, plaintiffs file dangerous drug cases against either the manufacturer or developer of the medication or someone in the chain of command who prescribed the medication, i.e., doctors, pharmacists, and medical practices.
Pharmaceutical companies develop potentially dangerous products to be used by the general public. Because the drugs they create can cause severe injury or death, drug manufacturers are held strictly liable when their product’s design, development, or manufacturing processes are defective and cause injury.
Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to test for all possible side effects and damage their medications can cause. If they do not perform thorough testing, they can be liable for unknown side effects that they should have discovered. When pharmaceutical companies engage in unethical practices, like failing to disclose side effects, altering clinical trial results, or pushing doctors to prescribe the medication for unapproved uses, the company may be civilly and criminally responsible for the harm their medications cause.
Often, legal cases against drug manufacturers take the form of class action lawsuits. When a prescription drug is known to have side effects that have affected thousands of people, the court system will consolidate these lawsuits into one case that settles the matter for all plaintiffs.
These class-action lawsuits can take years to settle but may end with a judgment for millions of dollars against the pharmaceutical company. If the class action lawsuit is successful, the injured plaintiffs will share the recovery according to the terms of the judgment or settlement.
The next people or entities who may be responsible for injuries caused by a dangerous drug are the medical professionals who prescribed it. Doctors treating patients have a legal responsibility to use their medical expertise to prescribe effective and safe medications. They must inform their patients of the potential side effects of a particular medication. The failure to warn a patient of dangerous side effects can be enough to sustain a lawsuit against the doctor.
Most doctors work at a medical office or hospital. In some instances, the employer of the doctor who prescribed the medication may also be responsible for the doctor’s negligence. For example, if a hospital knew that its doctors were prescribing a dangerous medication for an unapproved purpose but did not stop it, the hospital and the doctor may have some liability.
Finally, the pharmacist who distributed the medication also has a legal responsibility to ensure the medications that a patient is taking are not contraindicated and will not cause harm. If the pharmacist fills a prescription that he or she knows (or should know) will cause an adverse reaction, that pharmacist may be held responsible for their actions in court.
If a person believes that a medication is causing them harm, they should speak with their physician about the symptoms they are experiencing. Patients may need a second or even third opinion to ensure that their symptoms are attributable to a particular medication. Patients should never stop taking a prescribed medication without their doctor’s approval. Still, it may be necessary to speak to multiple doctors if the prescribing physician is not listening to the patient’s concerns.
After speaking with a physician or getting a second opinion, patients should speak with a knowledgeable dangerous drugs attorney. It is essential to talk with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury caused by a dangerous drug. In Florida, the statute of limitations bars lawsuits involving defective products after a certain time. If a patient files a lawsuit outside the statute of limitations, the court will dismiss the case.
Florida’s statute of limitations on product liability is four years, starting from when the product caused an injury. So, if a medication causes a side effect that harms a patient, the patient will generally have four years from the date of that injury to file a lawsuit. If the patient did not know that the drug caused the injury, the law can extend the statute of limitations, but not indefinitely.
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, if a company hides that the particular medication was the cause of a dangerous side effect, the law may extend the statute of limitations. Children who suffer an injury due to medication may also have additional time to file a lawsuit.
Four years might seem like a long time, but it is not, especially when dealing with serious health problems. Product liability cases can require extensive investigation and gathering of technical evidence. There might be other people who suffered the same injury who might join the case. Lawyers need time to prepare to file a case.
For that reason, people who believe they suffered harm due to prescription medication or other drugs must speak with an experienced North Port dangerous drugs lawyer as soon as they suspect that a medication is to blame for their injury.
If an injured person files a successful dangerous drug lawsuit against the person or entity that hurt them, the patient can recover several types of compensation, known as damages, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. The types of damages available will depend on the circumstances of the case.
Economic damages compensate the injured person for losses that we can measure. For example, a person who cannot work for three months after suffering a side effect from medication can calculate how much income he or she should have earned during that period. Similarly, economic damages might include the loss of future earnings, additional medical bills, or other definable costs.
Non-economic damages cover those things that we cannot easily quantify. Unlike lost wages, non-economic damages do not have an easily discernible monetary value. For instance, non-economic damages may include the loss of a person’s quality of loss, mental distress, pain, suffering, or loss of companionship.
In the past, non-economic damages had a cap, or maximum amount, that can be awarded to a single individual. However, the Florida Supreme Court removed that cap in a recent case. There is no maximum amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff may receive, but that can change with future legislation.
In rare cases, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish wrongdoing and are not appropriate in every situation. Suppose a plaintiff can show that their health care provider actively attempted to harm them or was extraordinarily reckless or negligent in treating their condition. In that case, a court might award additional punitive damages. These damages are usually capped at three times the compensatory damages or at $500,000, whichever is greater.
No, some side effects are expected even if they cause an injury. In general, a person can file a lawsuit if the side effects outweigh the benefits of the drug, the person was not warned about potential side effects of a drug, a doctor prescribed the drug without concern for contraindicated medications, or the drug was defective in some way.
Many drugs and medical devices are part of an existing class-action lawsuit. Some examples of medications that are part of current lawsuits include Xarelto, Ambien, Invokana, and Oxycontin.
Yes, parties must file all lawsuits within the statute of limitations. In Florida, this can be as short as two years, depending on the circumstances of the case.
In most cases, a lawyer will take an injury case on a contingent fee basis. There is no up-front cost to the patient, and the lawyer will take any fees out of the recovery at the end of the case.
Filing a lawsuit against a doctor, health care provider, or pharmaceutical company is a complicated endeavor that requires the help of an experienced dangerous drugs attorney.
Contact Boohoff Law so our North Port dangerous drug lawyers can answer your questions about the legal process and guide you through the steps to prove your case.
If a prescription medication injured you, don’t wait to get the help you need. Call (941) 888-0848 today and schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities.
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