A Guide To Defective Medical Device Lawsuits

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This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by Tort Defenders’ writers and staff and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney.

Every medication or medical device that hits the consumer market has to go through extensive testing and review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vast majority issued to patients are safe; however, defects and unexpected complications can occur.  

When patients are harmed by medical devices or prescriptions that they thought were safe, the companies that make these products can be held liable. Product liability laws are designed to protect people from harm caused by companies. An affected patient or a group of patients can bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer to prove that the business was negligent in the development or marketing of their products. Learn more about medical device lawsuits and explore some real-life examples. 

Burden of Proof In Defective Medical Device Lawsuits

There are two important legal terms to know when discussing defective medical devices. The first is the burden of proof, which is a standard the plaintiff must follow to make their case. In the case of medical device lawsuits, the burden of proof is strict liability, which is the second legal term you should know. Strict liability means the plaintiff doesn’t need to prove the defending company was negligent. Instead, they need to prove that the device was defective and it caused their illness.

Proving causation is difficult in a claim such as this. The legal team needs to prove that the defective medical device was the specific cause of the plaintiff’s cancer or medical illness. Several factors contribute to the development of medical maladies, which means it’s hard to directly connect one product with a specific issue. 

What Types of Claims Can Be Made in Defective Medical Device Lawsuits? 

Plaintiffs can make a variety of claims in their defective medical device lawsuits. Here are a few concerns that a patient might bring against a pharmaceutical company or medical device manufacturer. 

  • Manufacturing defects: In these claims, a plaintiff might claim that something went wrong in the development process that made the medical device dangerous.
  • Design defects: In these cases, the plaintiff claims the design of the medical device itself is flawed.
  • Dangerous materials: For these cases, the plaintiff claims the medical device works well, but was constructed with unsafe materials. 
  • Marketing defects: The plaintiff claims the manufacturer failed to alert customers of potential side effects or complications that could occur as a result of using the medical device or taking the medication.

In each of these instances, the person who used the device was unaware that they were putting their health at risk because of it. Instead, they believed the medical device was safe to use.

Naming Defendants in Defective Medical Device Lawsuits

In the same way that medical device lawsuits can list a variety of complaints, these cases can also name different defendants. Here are a few potentially negligent parties who could be named in a defective medical device lawsuit: 

  • Manufacturers: These are the companies that make medical devices and medications. If one part of a medical device is defective, plaintiffs may decide to sue both the manufacturer and the vendor who the manufacturer bought the part from. Plaintiffs must prove that the devices are defective and should not be sold. 
  • Testing laboratories: The plaintiffs need to prove that the testing groups responsible for ensuring the medical devices were safe did not thoroughly evaluate the defective item. The legal team for the plaintiffs might look at the clinical trials to confirm that they were not thorough or objective. 
  • Sales representatives: The plaintiffs will try to prove that sales representatives encouraged doctors to use the medical devices while hiding or downplaying potential side effects and concerns that come with them. This led doctors and patients to believe the medical devices were safe.
  • Doctors: Finally, the patients might sue their doctor for encouraging them to use certain medical devices. However, this might be closer to a medical malpractice lawsuit if the patient feels the doctor did not fully evaluate their condition. 

Several parties are responsible for acting in the best interest of patients. It is important in medical device lawsuits to identify who is to blame for distributing defective products. 

Damages in Medical Device Lawsuits 

The final element when developing a defective medical device lawsuit is to list the damages you expect the defendant to pay. Here are a few types of damages that plaintiffs frequently seek:

  • Healthcare costs: These include medical bills and other expenses related to the treatment and recovery process. 
  • Lost wages: This is the amount of income the patient lost because they were unable to work during their illness. 
  • Pain and suffering: Fighting cancer and other illnesses can cause emotional distress. Patients can also become upset when they miss out on hobbies and major life events because of their sickness. Pain and suffering damages account for this. 
  • Future costs: Some lawsuits might include a stipend for the plaintiff to account for future medical expenses and lost wages. 
  • Loss of consortium: In wrongful death cases, loss of consortium damages cover the emotional distress that comes with losing a partner or family member. 

Plaintiffs need to take the big-picture view of the damages caused by the negligent party. This ensures they receive a fair settlement based on their suffering. 

A Real-Life Example of a Defective Medical Device Lawsuit

One of the best ways to learn about defective medical device cases is to look at some real-life examples. Here is one of the lawsuits in the media that showcases how medical device cases can vary. 

Weight Loss Drugs (Ozempic and Wegovy) 

In the past few years, GLP-1 agonists (commonly known as Ozempic and Wegovy) have become popular for treating type 2 diabetes and supporting weight loss efforts. However, some patients experience serious complications and unexpected side effects from taking these injectable medications. One of these complications is stomach paralysis, which prevents food from effectively moving through the digestive system. 

The lawsuits against Ozempic and Wegovy are still pending. Plaintiffs claim the medical manufacturers never warned them about these potential complications in their marketing materials. If you took one of these medications for weight loss or type 2 diabetes, you may be able to file a claim. 

Finding a Lawyer for Defective Medical Device Lawsuits

Filing lawsuits related to defective medical device cases is complex and requires in-depth legal knowledge. You can see how identifying the issue, naming the defendant, proving causing, and requesting damages requires in-depth research and planning. 
If you are considering filing a defective medical device lawsuit, work with experienced lawyers who specialize in this field. They can guide you through each step of the process so you can focus on healing while getting the settlement you deserve.

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