When you sought medical help from your healthcare providers, the last thing you expected was to suffer further injury or illness. However, when a defective medical device causes you significant injury or disease, you may have the right to financial compensation.
Pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defective medical device could help you recover the compensation you’ll need to get through this difficult time in your life. With this in mind, our defective medical device attorneys at Brown & Barron have answered some of the more frequently asked questions surrounding defective medical device claims in Maryland.
When Are Medical Devices Considered Defective?
Whenever medical devices do not work as intended, a court might consider them defective. In addition, medical device defects can take many forms that could affect a specific type or line of device:
- An improper label
- An inherent design flaw
- A manufacturing error
No matter the reason, patients can suffer considerable injury or illness whenever a patient uses a medical device that somehow malfunctions.
What Are Some Common Medical Devices Later Found to Be Defective?
Many defective medical devices were once on the market and used inpatient care. Some malfunctioning medical devices that may have injured you, creating a cause of action, include:
- Bard IVC Blood Clot Filter
- Da Vinci Robotic Surgery
- 3M Bair Hugger Warming Blanket
- DePuy Hip Replacement
- Ethicon Physiomesh
- Biomet Magnum Hip Implant
- Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch
These are only a few of the defective medical devices for which you could sue the manufacturer. Do you believe a medical device malfunctioned, causing you substantial injury or illness, and you do not know where to turn for help? If so, you could reach out to our office to learn whether you have grounds for a defective medical device claim.
Who Is at Fault for Injuries or Illnesses Caused by Defective Medical Devices?
One of the top reasons more victims do not seek legal action after being injured or falling ill due to a defective medical device is because they are unsure who to hold responsible. Healthcare providers may not always be aware that a medical device is faulty when prescribing its use. However, many parties could share liability for defective medical devices, including:
- Doctors’ office facilities
- Medical device manufacturers
- Medical device designers and producers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Other third parties
Only an in-depth investigation into the cause of your injury will uncover how the medical device in question became defective and determine the liable parties for your defective medical device lawsuit.
Will I File a Medical Malpractice or Personal Injury Lawsuit?
It’s difficult to say whether you will file a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit. How you proceed often depends on who is responsible for causing your injuries.
For example, suppose a healthcare professional’s error led to your medical device becoming defective. In that case, you might file a medical malpractice lawsuit for a medical error and breach of the medical standard of care.
However, now suppose an inherent design flaw, an issue with the manufacturing process, or an improper warning label caused the medical device defect. You might then file a product liability lawsuit, which is a separate personal injury claim. Your attorney will evaluate the individual details of your case to determine which type of claim is more appropriate for you.
Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Company?
It is never a good idea to give a statement to the insurance company without first discussing the details of your case with your attorney. Insurance companies often manipulate the statements given to them by well-intending claimants. For example, insurance adjusters could take your statement and twist it to make it appear as though you have accepted fault for causing the medical device to become defective or are otherwise responsible for the injuries you sustained.
Since Maryland follows a pure contributory negligence system, sharing fault for your injuries will prohibit you from recovering financial compensation. This is in the insurance company’s best interests, as it will mean they do not have to pay out on your claim. Fortunately, you can avoid having the insurance company taking advantage of you if you have your defective medical device attorney step in and handle the insurance negotiation process on your behalf.
How does the Claims Process Work for Defective Medical Device Lawsuits?
The claims process for defective medical devices can vary considerably depending on whether you file a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit. However, the claims process generally follows the following path:
- You hire an attorney to represent your interests
- Your lawyer investigates your injuries to determine who is at fault
- Throughout the inquiry, your lawyer gathers the evidence needed to support your case
- Once they have established liability, your attorney can calculate the value of your defective medical device claim
- Then, they will file a claim with the insurance company if appropriate
- If insurance negotiations fail to recover total compensation for your damages, your attorney will bring your case to court
- At trial, your attorney will advocate for maximum compensation for your losses
How Long do I Have to Decide If I Want to File a Defective Medical Device Claim?
The amount of time you have to file your defective medical device claim can vary depending on whether you file a medical malpractice lawsuit or personal injury claim. For example, if you file a medical malpractice lawsuit for a defective medical device, you could have up to five years before the statute of limitations expires.
However, if you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code § 5-101 may only allow for three years before the statute of limitations expires. Once it runs out for your case, the courts might bar you from seeking compensation.
Since the exact date that the statute of limitations will expire in your case may be unclear, it is essential to have an experienced defective medical device attorney handle the procedural and legal details of your case. This way, you do not have to worry about risking your injury settlement for failure to file your claim before the deadline.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
It is always possible that your case will have to go to court. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not routinely settle defective medical device claims. That’s in part because insurance companies only must cover specific types and amounts of damages.
For instance, most insurance companies will often provide coverage for losses such as property damages, medical expenses, and in some cases, lost income. However, the insurer must only cover damages up to the limits of the policyholder’s policy.
Therefore, if the liable party does not carry enough insurance to meet your needs fully, bringing your case to court may be the only way to make sure the at-fault party compensates you for every loss.
What Happens If My Child Suffered Injuries Because of a Defective Medical Device?
Children who suffer significant injury or illness due to a defective medical device have the same right to financial compensation as an adult. However, since they cannot legally represent themselves, it is up to you as their parent or legal guardian to fight for their right to maximum restitution.
You can fight to recover the compensation your child will need to cover their current and future damages with help from your defective medical device attorney. In addition, remember that children who suffer injuries or illnesses caused by defective medical devices may suffer lasting effects from their injuries. Thus, your attorney needs to take this into consideration when calculating the value of your child’s claim.
How Much Is My Defective Medical Device Claim Worth?
It is hard to determine how much your defective medical device claim is worth without thoroughly reviewing your damages. However, you have the right to be made whole when someone else is responsible for your injury or illness.
This obligation involves your lawyer considering every single loss when determining your defective medical device claim’s value. To ensure they consider every loss, your attorney will separate your damages into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are what we typically consider in an injury lawsuit. They are easy to quantify, as you can prove them with financial records, including pay stubs, bank statements, and receipts. Some common types of economic damages awarded for injuries caused by defective medical devices include:
- Hospital bills
- Insurance co-pays
- Prescription medications
- Medical equipment
- Diagnostic imaging
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Future medical care
- Transportation costs
- Unexpected childcare expenses
- Household maintenance and upkeep
- Increased insurance premiums
- Loss of income
- Diminished earning capacity (e.g., loss of retirement savings contributions, bonuses, and salary increases)
What Are Noneconomic Damages?
Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible value. These damages affect each person’s life differently (if at all), making them more difficult to quantify. However, because they can have such a significant impact on a person’s life, your attorney should account for them accordingly.
With that in mind, some noneconomic damages often awarded in defective medical device claims include:
- Disfigurement and skin scarring
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
Can I Recover Punitive Damages?
It is certainly possible that you could be awarded punitive damages in a defective medical device claim. Before a pharmaceutical company makes a medical device available to patients, it should be clear it will be safe when used as intended.
When companies fail to take the necessary steps to ensure product safety or ignore essential safety procedures and protocols, not only can you hold them accountable by filing your civil claim, but the legal system might decide to act as well.
Punitive damages are the court system’s way of punishing liable parties for malicious conduct. Although awarded rarely, punitive damages send a message to the public that the Maryland civil courts will not tolerate similar actions.
What Evidence Can Support My Case?
The burden of proof in a defective medical device, personal injury, or medical malpractice claim is a preponderance of the evidence. Thus, the evidence presented must clearly show that the defendant is more than likely at fault for your injuries.
To meet that standard, your attorney will present these types of evidence to support your defective medical device claim:
- Safety inspection reports
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Design plans
- Production checklists
- Photos of your injuries
These are just a few common types of evidence that you could use to support your case. Your attorney will analyze your claim in detail to determine which evidence they should present in insurance negotiations or at trial.
Meet With a Defective Medical Device Attorney in Maryland Today
Pursuing a lawsuit or insurance claim for a defective medical device can become complicated. However, you can have a strong legal advocate on your side fighting for your right to maximum compensation. That allows you to focus on recuperating from your injuries while we handle the legalities of your case.
Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation with a Maryland defective medical device attorney at Brown & Barron today by calling our office.