Prescription drug overdoses are on the rise and cause thousands of deaths in the U.S. annually. The CDC reports that more than 1 million Americans have died of overdoses since 1999, and there were 106,000 in 2021 alone.
Sometimes, the overdose may not be the patient’s fault, and the prescribing doctor could be liable for the death. If you lost your loved one to an overdose and suspect a medication error, speak to a wrongful death attorney today.
If your case qualifies, the accidental poisoning and overdose lawyers at Nix Patterson have the skill and experience to fight for the best possible result.
It is often assumed that the consumer is at fault for an accidental poisoning or overdose, but that is not necessarily true. There are several potentially liable parties, depending on the case:
One of the most severe drug overdose problems involves opioids. In 1980, a group of doctors released a letter stating that opioids were usually not addictive. This one letter essentially led to an opioid “arms race” among drug manufacturers.
Drug manufacturers and their distributors released more and more powerful pain drugs. They aggressively marketed these drugs to consumers and suggested they were not addictive. In the late 1980s, the U.S. government altered broadcasting rules and authorized manufacturers to release TV ads promoting their products and downplaying health risks.
Physicians watch TV as consumers do, and many believed that opioids were safe to prescribe, even for a patient with short-term pain, such as from a broken arm.
If your wrongful death attorney can prove that the drug manufacturer or distributor was negligent, you could be awarded damages in a lawsuit.
Many prescription drugs, especially for pain treatment, are powerful, and if they are not closely monitored, a patient could be injured or killed. Opioids and fentanyl, for example, can easily cause addiction and overdose even if they are taken as directed.
The prescribing doctor has a legal duty to carefully evaluate the person’s medical history, check their physical condition, and determine the appropriate drug and dose. They cannot just quickly write prescriptions for powerful drugs and forget the matter, but this is what sometimes happens in wrongful death cases.
Sometimes, doctors prescribe potent drugs outside their area of expertise. For instance, a urologist shouldn’t prescribe potent opioids to someone with chronic back pain. In other cases, the doctor could be running a “pill mill,” specializing in writing many opioid prescriptions for profit.
The treating physician could also be liable for accidental poisoning or overdose death by prescribing too powerful a drug when a less potent one could suffice. While everyone makes mistakes, if a treating physician prescribes the wrong medication, they may have to pay damages in a lawsuit.
Drug overdoses do happen because of consumer abuse, but they also can be caused by several other factors:
Suddenly losing your loved one to a medication overdose is shocking and devastating, and you may be confused. Many who lose their loved ones in this manner don’t realize that they could take legal action to secure their financial future and obtain a measure of justice.
Every state allows certain family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit against someone who caused their loved one’s death. Each state has different rules about who can file suit. In Texas, for example, the parents, children, and spouse can file the claim. However, you should speak to an accidental poisoning and overdose lawyer to determine who can file in your state.
Depending on the facts of the accidental overdose case, you could be entitled to some or all of these damages:
To sue successfully for wrongful death, you must prove that the at-fault party owed your relative a duty of care and that their death happened because the liable party breached their duty.
For a doctor, the duty of care stems from the doctor-patient relationship and usually involves giving your loved one healthcare up to a high standard of care. Another doctor in the same situation would have provided this standard of care.
For a drug manufacturer, the duty could involve proper labeling and warning on how the drug is packaged and marketed.
The duty of care for a pharmacy could be to fill the prescription correctly and follow all state and federal laws for prescription drug safety.
According to the CDC, opioids are the primary driver of legal drug overdose deaths, and 88% of opioid-related overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids. Opioids caused about 80,400 overdose deaths in 2021 and were 75.4% of all overdose deaths.
Opioids are synthetic types of opium and can reduce pain. But they also may suppress breathing to a deadly degree if there is an overdose. Common examples of opioids that have led to thousands of overdose deaths are oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.
The CDC reports that accidental poisoning and overdose deaths involving methamphetamine are also increasing. If the drugs were prescribed by a doctor improperly, the family could hold them responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The CDC says that states in the Appalachian region and Southwest have the highest death rates from opioid overdoses. The highest rates in the 2000s have been in New Mexico and West Virginia, almost 15 times that of the state with the lowest number of overdose deaths – North Dakota.
If you lost your loved one to an accidental poisoning or overdose and someone else was responsible, you can take legal action to obtain financial justice for your loss. You can count on Nix Patterson’s accidental poisoning and overdose lawyers to work hard to receive the compensation you deserve for losing your loved one. Contact our attorneys today for a complimentary consultation about your wrongful death case.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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