Every day, millions of people in the United States rely on prescription drugs to treat, manage, or cure the medical conditions from which they suffer. While patients should be able to trust the medication their doctor prescribes will be both safe and effective, this isn't always the case. Defective, insufficiently-tested or improperly-labeled prescription drugs can injure, sicken, or even kill individuals who take them.
If your loved one died as a result of defective or unsafe prescription medication, you deserve answers and justice. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for a wide range of losses related to your loved one's death.
However, securing a financial award in a wrongful death case brought against a drug company can be more difficult than it sounds.
Are you considering taking legal action on behalf of a loved one who was killed by a defective prescription drug? Here's what you need to know.
Product Liability Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When brought against prescription drug companies, wrongful death lawsuits are essentially product liability claims. Manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure the products they sell are safe for consumers, and drug companies are no exception.
If a drug company produces a faulty product that causes injury or death, it can be held responsible for damages—regardless of negligence—under a concept known as strict liability. Drug companies may also be found liable if the side effect or condition that led to the death wasn't included on the drug's warning label.
The Generic Drugs Loophole
Unfortunately, product liability laws governing defective or dangerous prescription drugs aren't without loopholes.
One of the most significant loopholes stems from a decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the 2011 case Pliva v. Mensing, which allows generic drug manufacturers to escape liability for injuries and deaths caused by their products. The reasoning behind the decision is complex. Generic drugs have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are governed by federal laws, but product liability actions are handled on the state level.
Additionally, because state laws can be more strict than federal FDA regulations, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for generic drug manufacturers to comply with both. The 2011 decision clarifies that generic drug manufacturers are subject to federal regulations, rather than state laws. Sadly, this effectively prevents family members from filing a claim on behalf of a loved one killed by a dangerous or defective generic drug.
Additional Factors That Could Affect a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? Not everyone who knew the decedent is eligible to file a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf. In Texas, the right to file a wrongful death claim is limited to the decedent's surviving spouse, biological or adopted children, and biological or adopted parents. If, after three months, none of the eligible surviving family members has filed a claim, a wrongful death claim can be filed by a representative of the estate.
- How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim? The Texas statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits specifies the claim must be filed within two years of the decedent's death. In most cases, claims filed after the two-year window has closed are thrown out.
Consult an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
The surviving family members of people killed by defective or dangerous prescription drugs can face a number of challenges in their pursuit of compensation and justice for their loved one's death—including having to go head-to-head with a team of savvy corporate attorneys in the courtroom. Having a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney by your side can help level the playing field.
If your loved one was killed by a faulty prescription drug, McGartland Law Firm's award-winning legal team can help you fight for the compensation your family deserves. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial case consultation.