Posted on October 24, 2018 in General
Opioid addiction and overdose are growing problems in America – and they can lead to serious health consequences and even death. While many experience overdoses with illicit opioids, just as many suffer from the effects of legally obtained drugs.
Prescription opioids can serve as powerful painkillers for those who have suffered from severe pain, and addiction is common. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of opioids can make them dangerous to administer. If you or a loved one has suffered due to prescription opioid overdose, what are your legal options?
Is It Possible to Sue for an Opioid Overdose?
If you’ve become addicted to opioid prescription drugs and have suffered an overdose, you can sue for damages, but you must meet certain conditions to have a claim. Most opioid overdose lawsuits hold the physician as the liable party, but you will need to prove fault to recover compensation. This process includes establishing that your physician had a duty of care to you, and it was his or her negligence that lead to the overdose.
As a medical professional, your physician will automatically have a duty of care to you as a patient. However, determining negligence can be more complicated, and the process will depend on the conditions of your case. In opioid overdose cases, the doctor’s use of the dosage or the type of drug can constitute as a breach of duty. In some situations, failure to notice a growing addiction to opioids may be negligent.
Many opioid related cases are forms of medical malpractice – and more tragic incidences of overdose can also lead to wrongful death claims. These cases can be devastating for the victim’s family, but they hold many of the same legal qualifications. The claim must prove that the overdose occurred due to another party’s negligence to be eligible for compensation.
Other medical professionals – aside from physicians – can be responsible for opioid overdose accidents. For example, a pharmacist may incorrectly fill out a prescription, providing a patient with the wrong medication or dosage, leading to an overdose.
You may also be able to hold the manufacturer liable for the overdose, though this process can be much more difficult. However, if the overdose was due to a defect in design, manufacturing, or warning on the manufacturer’s part, you may have a valid product liability claim. Depending on the circumstances of the case, several parties may be liable for the overdose.
When Is It Not Possible to Sue for an Opioid Overdose?
If your case doesn’t meet the criteria for medical malpractice, you will likely have no legal right to sue. For example, if the overdose occurred because a patient ignored the doctor’s instructions on how to take an opioid despite hearing clear warnings, it may be much harder to prove that the doctor was at fault.
Likewise, there can be complications in holding a manufacturer liable for overdose. Unless there was an error in the manufacturing process, courts will often find that the manufacturer is too far removed from the actions of the patient and medical professionals to be responsible for the case. However, as the opioid epidemic increases in America, many state governments are filing claims against manufacturers, and the rules for manufacturer liability may change.
What Should You Do if You Think You Have an Opioid Overdose Claim?
Determining liability is one of the most essential steps in a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim. Because an opioid overdose claim involves several potentially responsible parties and many legal complexities, you should seek the help of an experienced attorney to determine the eligibility of your claim. A lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps.
As opioid abuse and addiction continue to impact America, there’s a strong chance that we’ll see new laws and legal options for those impacted by opioid overdoses. Until then, it is possible to receive compensation through an overdose lawsuit.