Product liability claims occur when a manufacturer or seller of a product or products is held liable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce. It is important to be aware that any party which is responsible for any portion of the manufacturing of a product may be held liable in the same manner as a seller.
A common example to demonstrate this concept is that of a vehicle. Vehicles are typically produced by numerous manufacturers, each of which makes a different part.
One manufacturer may create the tires, another manufacturer makes the engine, a third makes the gas tank, and a fourth the stereo system, and so on until all of the parts are made and assembled. After the vehicle is assembled, it will go to a dealer or retailer.
During the production of a vehicle, there are dozens of parties which may be involved. If a vehicle is defective, there are many parties who may be liable for any injuries which were caused, including:
- The assembling manufacturer;
- The wholesaler;
- The dealer; and
- The manufacturer of the portion that was found to be defective.
What Defects Create Liability?
There are three categories of defects which may result in liability for one or all of the parties which are involved in the manufacturing and sale of a product, including:
- A design defect;
- A manufacturing defect; and
- A defective warning.
A design defect is what the name points to, a defect in the design of a product. No matter how well a product is manufactured and no matter how the consumer is warned about the product, if the product’s design is defective, it means it is inherently flawed and will lead to potential liability.
A manufacturing defect is also what the name indicates, a defect in the manufacturing of the product. A design may be perfect and completely safe but when the product is assembled by the manufacturer, it is done so in a way which makes the product unsafe.
Even when products are designed and manufactured without flaws, there are some products which may still result in products liability claims if there is not an adequate warning regarding the product. In addition, product liability claims based on defective warnings may also include the failure to properly instruct consumers regarding how to use the product.
There are some products where the inherent danger seems self-explanatory. For example, knives are sharp, firearms are dangerous, and lighters are flammable. While these statements are true, the law has still provided that failing to warn consumers regarding the dangerous propensities of these products can result in liability.
What Are Considered Drugs and Medical Devices?
A drug is a medication which is prescribed by a physician as well as medications which can be purchased over the counter. A medical device includes devices used to improve the health of individuals, such as pacemakers, hip replacements, and heart-valve replacements.
These types of medications and devices are often the subject of product liability claims when they cause injury.
What Types of Injuries Can Result From Taking Defective Medicines?
Taking a defective medication can present serious health risks. There are numerous medications which have been linked to serious side effects and other issues, including:
Issues with medications usually include unwanted side effects, which may include:
- Vomiting and other digestive issues;
- Irregular heartbeat or blood pressure; and
- Blood toxicity.
In some cases, injuries which are sustained from a medication may be more permanent and include issues such as loss of vision or motor function. In these types of cases, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional and an attorney for advice.
Who is Responsible for Injuries from Defective Medicines?
In the majority of cases, the party which is responsible for a defective medicine is the manufacturer of the drug or medical apparatus. If an injury is the result of a defective product, the injured party may have a claim under product liability laws.
Manufacturers may be liable under one or more categories of product defects, including the categories discussed above of defective design, manufacturing defects, and inadequate warnings.
The method of proving a product liability claim is essentially the same for all of the categories of product defects. The injured party, or plaintiff, is required to show the following elements:
- The product had a defect which was unreasonably dangerous;
- The product’s defect caused an injury as a result of that product being used in accordance with the way it was intended to be used; and
- The product was not substantially altered from the manner in which it was originally sold.
For example, if a purchaser of a medication tampers with that product or alters the composition after it was purchased, that will likely prevent the individual from successfully recovering in their product liability claim.
What Other Parties Might be Responsible?
In addition to the manufacturer of a medication or drug, there are other parties which may be responsible for injuries they cause. These parties may include:
- The physician who prescribed the medication; and
- The pharmacy which filled the prescription.
It is important to note that liability for a physician or pharmacist will not likely fall under the category of product liability. Instead, if a physician prescribed the wrong medication, the likely cause of action would be medical malpractice.
If it was the pharmacy that filled the wrong type of medication, it will most likely lead to a negligence claim. If an individual has been injured by a defective medicine, it is important to locate the parties which are responsible for the injury. There may be a combination of several different parties which led to the injury and damages.
What Are the Remedies for Damages from Defective Medicines?
Once an individual has determined which party or parties may be responsible for their injuries, they may be entitled to recover monetary damages for their financial losses related to the injury. This may include medical expenses, lost wages if the injury limited the injured party’s ability to work, and, in some cases, punitive damages.
It is important for an individual to document their expenses using records and receipts. If there are numerous individuals who have been affected by the defective medicine, they may have grounds for a class action lawsuit.
A class action lawsuit may be a good option for recovery. However, they can also be complex and take a long time to resolve.
If an individual wants to report the manufacturer of a defective medication, they may wish to contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This may trigger a recall of the medication. The individual may also be entitled to a refund for the product if it is recalled.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Defective Medicine Claim?
It is important to have the assistance of a defective product lawyer for any issues you may have related to a defective medication. A defective medicine can be hazardous to your health and well-being.
Your lawyer can review your case, determine what types of claims may be available to you, and advise you regarding the laws in your state and the best course of action for your claim. It is always important for you to check your medication purchases prior to consuming any medication.