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Texas Personal Injury News

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

9 Big Things a Lawyer Does (and Doesn't Do) When Handling a Pharmaceutical Case

 

A wrongful death attorney has the unenviable job of pursuing justice for an individual who suffered serious harm or death from taking a prescription medication. Drug manufacturers frequently release medications to the public that have serious side effects, and they aren't always as safe as manufacturers claim they are. When a death occurs as a result of taking a prescription medication, the stakes are much higher for the survivors. Following are nine reasons why retaining an attorney for pharmaceutical cases that resulted in death can be beneficial to those who have suffered.

1. Doesn't charge a fee. 

In these types of cases, a lawyer won't charge a fee up front. Instead, the fees are paid from the financial award to the client -- if the case is won. In the event that the case isn't won, the client never pays a cent -- even though the lawyer put out his funds to pursue the case. This is done to encourage injured parties to come forward and take advantage of their legal right to recover economic damages after being injured. In the event of death as a result of medication, the family has the option to seek justice on behalf of the deceased -- no matter their financial situation.

2. Make sure that the statute of limitations hasn't run out.
    
The State of Texas has a two-year limit on filing a defective products lawsuit. That is to say, the injured party or their family members have two years from the date of taking the medication that caused injury or death to file a lawsuit in court. If the time has run out on filing suit, the court will not hear the case no matter what the reason is for not filing on time. There may be extenuating circumstances that prevent the injured or his/her family from seeing a lawyer right away, but it's best to see a lawyer at the first available opportunity in order to preserve the facts of the case while the details are still fresh. 

3. Determine the facts of the case, or how the drug caused injury or death. 
    

The pharmaceutical manufacturer may have failed to warn adequately about side effects, resulting in injury or death. When this happens, it is, at the very least, a violation of the trust that the patient gives the manufacturer when taking their medication. The lawyer investigates the events that led up to the injury or death, and seeks to uncover how the medication caused harm.

4. Consult with expert witnesses to examine the case.

It's possible that the cause of injury or death isn't clear-cut. The lawyer, while having extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical cases, is not a physician or medical expert. An expert witness with a medical background takes on the job of examining the case file and determining what went wrong, how, and where. 

5. Pursue justice -- and compensation.

In the event that a family member died as a result of an adverse reaction to the drug or side effects, the lawyer can help the family make an attempt to receive economic damages for the loss of income from the deceased. This one may seem morally wrong on its surface, but it is a completely valid request in a wrongful death from a pharmaceutical lawsuit. The deceased provided financial support to their family, and it is possible for a wrongful death attorney to put a number on that support. Some of the items included in an economic damage include:

  • The cost of the output of the deceased. If the deceased was in the business of creating goods of some sort and selling them for financial benefit, the total sales volume can be calculated and included.
  •  Loss of inheritance from another family member. If the deceased was due to inherit money from parents or other family members, and that inheritance was lost due to their death, the survivors may allowed to include that amount in the lawsuit.
  • Loss of love and comfort from the deceased. This one may sound a bit odd, but it's in line with pain and suffering. While it's difficult to put a value on something as seemingly abstract as emotional loss, it is possible to do so and sue for the amount in court.
  • Loss of leadership, or the loss of guidance that family members received from the deceased. This is akin to the loss of love and comfort
  • The cost of funeral and burial expenses that were incurred when least expected.

6. Make negotiations (whenever possible).

Wrongful death and personal injury attorneys generally approach the pharmaceutical company directly about settling before taking the case to court. Sometimes, a pharmaceutical company sets aside a fund for lawsuits and may prefer to pay out an agreed-upon sum as opposed to litigating in court. It's unusual -- but not unknown, either. A skilled lawyer may be able to satisfy all parties without having to drag the situation out in the courtroom.

7. Take it to to trial.

A good lawyer will also not hesitate to pursue a case in court when negotiations fail to elicit a response or result from the pharmaceutical company. This is the more likely scenario for most victims of bad drugs, as manufacturers frequently don't care to admit fault about their products. Manufacturers will often prefer to fight the action in court, so that they can maintain sales of the drug instead of pulling it off the market -- until absolutely forced to.

8. Decide what kind of suit to file.

Determine if the case belongs on pharmaceutical dockets for an individual suit, class-action or multi-district legislation action. Depending on the details, the case may be better off as an individual suit (which involves one plaintiff only), a class-action suit (comprised of multiple plaintiffs acting as a unit), or multi-district legislation action (where multiple cases are combined but still ruled on individually). A lawyer can help decide which of the types of pharmaceutical dockets makes the most sense for your situation.

9. Advocate for the client in court.

When and if the case goes to court, there are going to be questions raised -- and, sometimes, accusations made that question the truthfulness of the plaintiff. The plaintiff's attorney knows the truth, as does the plaintiff. However, the pharmaceutical company doesn't want to admit responsibility, and its lawyers are going to do what they can to put the blame on the plaintiff instead of the medication. Your lawyer's job is to stop them in their tracks.

 

Citations:

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/statute-of-limitations-state-laws-chart-29941.html

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/time-limits-filing-product-liability-claim-29558.html

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=57092

http://www.druginjurylaw.com/

 


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