The Nuts and Bolts of a Dangerous Drug Claim

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2020 | Products Liability

Dangerous drugs, products laced with toxic chemicals, and other defective products can injure hundreds of thousands of people at once. As a result, under Kentucky law, these manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause.

Manufacturers are not just responsible for compensatory losses, like medical bills and pain and suffering. Generally, manufacturers are also liable for punitive damages. These additional damages, which are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant ignored a known risk, punish the company and encourage it to change the way it does business.

These general rules are deceptively simple. Generally, dangerous product claims, especially dangerous drug claims, hinge on expert testimony. The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in these claims. Furthermore, large companies have teams of attorneys who do whatever it takes to reduce or deny compensation and preserve the company’s reputation.

Only a top Lexington personal injury attorney is able to level the playing field and give victims a fighting chance. Without a strong lawyer, most victims wind up settling their claims for less than they are worth. And, your family deserves better.

Evidence in Dangerous Drug Claims

As mentioned, victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in dangerous drug claims. That burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest burden of proof in Kentucky law. For practical purposes, victim/plaintiffs must essentially show that the dangerous side-effects were more than coincidental.

Typically, that means a temporal connection. Today’s drugs are so powerful that they almost always have unintended consequences. Pfizer originally designed Viagra, the erectile dysfunction drug, as a cardiovascular cure. 

General and specific evidence is usually enough to convince most jurors. General evidence usually involves extensive studies. Typically, researchers look at thousands of cases before they conclude that Drug X could cause cancer. Specific evidence usually includes medical examinations and histories which indicate that the victim had no cancer or other relevant risk factors.

Although the burden of proof is rather low, most attorneys spend a great deal of time and resources compiling evidence. There is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence and the level of damages. Furthermore, the victim’s case must be strong enough to sustain the drug company’s attacks. These companies have possess of experts who routinely testify that the drug at issue is perfectly safe.

Legal Theories

The victim/plaintiff’s evidence is like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A pile of puzzle pieces on a table is not a very compelling picture. But once an attorney puts some of the pieces together, jurors can fill in the blanks for themselves.

Most people start by assembling the edges of jigsaw puzzles in order to frame the picture. The appropriate legal theory does much the same thing. Failure to warn is often a compelling theory. This doctrine does not require the victim to “prove” that Drug X caused serious side effects. Victims must simply show that there was an elevated risk which the defendant ignored.

Occasionally, there is evidence that the drug company knew about side effects for years yet did not warn customers, usually because companies are afraid that such warnings will depressed sales. In these situations, maximum compensation is usually available in failure to warn cases.

Alternatively, a victim/plaintiff could claim that the drug directly caused the victim’s illness. These claims require more evidence. But in most cases, damages are substantially higher as well.

Your Claim for Damages

As mentioned, a dangerous drug could injure tens of thousands of people at once. As a result, dangerous drug claims are usually mass torts. These legal actions allow victims to pool their resources and successfully take down large companies.

Class actions are sometimes appropriate. A single Lexington personal injury attorney, or group of attorneys, represents everyone who took the drug during a certain time period. These claims are especially common in toxic exposure cases, like PFOA water poisoning. All these victims drank the same water in roughly the same way.

But all patients are different. They have different medical profiles and may take the drug for different reasons. So, multidistrict litigation sometimes works better. Cases are consolidated for pretrial purposes. Then, if a claim fails to settle, it usually returns to its home jurisdiction for trial.

People who ingest dangerous drugs could be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.