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What is Drug and Medical Device Injury Law?

Pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices are frequently at the center of personal injury lawsuits, often based on claims that the drug or device was defective or unreasonably dangerous. Even though they go through a stringent approval process with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers are still liable for any injuries caused by their drugs or medical devices (and may be forced to pull products from the shelves in some cases). Personal injury attorneys specializing in pharmaceuticals and medical devices should be able to help you file a claim if you have been injured.

If you take pharmaceutical drugs or use a medical device, it may be wise to stay abreast of recalls and safety alerts for those products (see the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database of recalled products). See Your Right to Recall Remedies and Medical Product and Device Defects to learn more about the process and your rights.

See FindLaw's Dangerous Drugs and Defective Medical Devices sections for information about specific products.

Terms to Know

  • Statute of Limitations: A statute establishing a period of time from the accrual of a cause of action (as upon the occurrence or discovery of an injury) within which a right of action (lawsuit) must be exercised.
  • Inherently Dangerous: Of, relating to, or being an activity or occupation whose nature presents a risk of grave injury without the use of and sometimes despite the use of special skill and care.
  • Recall: A public call by a manufacturer for the return of a defective or especially unsafe product.

When Drug and Medical Device Manufacturers are Liable

Some side effects of drugs and devices may indeed cause "injury" to users, but manufacturers are generally not liable for these if they are clearly listed as potential side effects. Typically, manufacturers become liable for injuries when:

  • Drugs/devices are defectively manufactured (this includes every step of the process, from the factory floor to shipment)
  • Dangerous side effects occur (certain side effects are normal, but must be clearly labeled)
  • They are improperly marketed in a way that causes injuries (drug makers often market a single drug for multiple uses)

Who Else May be Liable for a Defective Drug or Medical Device?

If you are injured by a pharmaceutical or medical device, the manufacturer is almost always named as a defendant in a lawsuit, but other parties along the supply chain also may be liable. Your attorney will be able to help you narrow down the responsible party or parties, which may include:

  • Laboratories
  • Sales representatives
  • Physicians, hospitals, or clinics
  • Pharmacies

Related Practice Areas

Check FindLaw's directory of drug and medical device lawyers to find a qualified attorney near you.

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