Pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices are often at the center of personal injury lawsuits. When drugs or devices are defective or unreasonably dangerous and cause injury or death, victims may file personal injury claims.
Even though they go through a stringent approval process with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers are still liable for injuries caused by their drugs or medical devices (and may be forced to pull products from the shelves). Some manufacturers allow their products to be sold and used, even after they are aware there is a risk of injury or harm.
Personal injury attorneys specializing in pharmaceuticals and medical devices should be able to help you file a claim if you have been injured.
Terms to Know
- Statute of Limitations: The time limit to file a personal injury or product liability lawsuit after the injury or after reasonable discovery of the injury. Filing a claim too late may mean the claim will be denied.
- Unavoidably Unsafe Product: Drug or medical device that is inherently incapable of being safe for its intended and ordinary use.
- Drug Recall: A public call by a manufacturer for the return of a defective or especially unsafe product.
- Lack of Sterility Assurance: A product that does not have the absence of viable microorganisms, including viruses, fungus, and bacteria. This can be caused by an unsterile manufacturing environment.
- Potency: Potency is the measure of a given drug in medication. Drugs can be manufactured that have a different potency than labeled, generally sub potent (lower potency) or super potent (higher potency). A difference in potency can pose a risk of harm to the patient taking the drug.
When Drug and Medical Device Manufacturers Are Liable
Some side effects of drugs and devices may cause injury to users, but manufacturers may not be liable for these if they are clearly identified as potential side effects. Typically, manufacturers become liable for injuries when:
- Drugs/devices are defectively manufactured (this includes every step of the process, from the factory floor to shipment)
- Dangerous side effects occur that the user is not warned about
- Drugs are improperly marketed in a way that causes injuries (drug makers often market a single drug for multiple uses)
- Medical devices have design defects that cause harm even when used as intended
Who Else May Be Liable for a Defective Drug or Medical Device?
If you are injured by a pharmaceutical or medical device, the manufacturer is generally named as a defendant in a lawsuit, but other parties along the supply chain also may be liable. Your attorney will be able to help you narrow down the responsible party or parties, which may include:
- Sales representatives
- Physicians, hospitals, or clinics
More Drug and Medical Device Injury Information
If you take pharmaceutical drugs or use a medical device, it may be wise to stay up-to-date on recalls and safety alerts for those products (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database of recalled products). See Your Right to Recall Remedies and Medical Product and Device Defects to learn more about the process and your rights.
See FindLaw's Dangerous Drugs and Defective Medical Devices sections for information about specific products.
Lawyers for Drug and Medical Device Injuries
It can be intimidating to try and take on the pharmaceutical industry or medical device makers. An experienced drug defect or medical device product liability attorney understands what is at stake and how to maximize your compensation. Check FindLaw's directory of drug and medical device lawyers to find a qualified attorney near you.