Why You Need a Lawyer to Represent You in Your Defective Medical Implant Claim

Defective Medical Devices

Medical implants are devices that are attached into or inside your body on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. A wide range of medical implants are in use including breast implants, artificial hips and knees, coronary stents and pacemakers. Injuries and deaths caused by defective medical implants are usually resolved under state product liability law.

Product Liability Law

To win a product liability lawsuit, you must prove (under a “more likely than not” standard) that:

  • The device was defective and thereby “unreasonably dangerous”. The three types of defects that apply are design defects, manufacturing defects and warning defects (failure to adequately warn of the device’s dangers). Even proving a defect will not be enough to win if the resulting danger was not “unreasonable” – and your injury does not automatically prove that the device was unreasonably dangerous.
  • The defect actually caused your injury. If you were using the product in a manner not intended by the manufacturer, for example, your misuse might be considered the cause of your injuries. If your doctor recommended this misuse (use while pregnant, for example), you might have a medical malpractice claim instead of a product liability claim.
  • The defendant was somewhere in the chain of distribution of the device – a retailer, wholesale or manufacturer, for example. You can sue the manufacturer, for example even if you purchased the product from a retailer. You can sue a retailer for a manufacturing defect even if the retailer was not at fault for the defect.

Why Defective Medical Implant Claims Can be Complex and Difficult

Defective medical implant claims are typically even more complex that ordinary personal injury claims because:

  • Proving that a medical implant was defective can be difficult. Proving a manufacturing or design defect in a pacemaker, for example, requires significant technical expertise, often necessitating the testimony of one or more expert witnesses. Even proving a failure to warn claim requires you to prove the existence of the danger that the device’s labeling, advertising or documentation failed to warn about.
  • Medical implant manufacturers are willing to devote substantial legal resources to defending product liability claims, because (i) they see them as an attack on their reputations and (ii) they anticipate that even one successful claim against them may lead to many others. Even if you only sue the distributor, the manufacturer may intervene in the lawsuit because if the distributor loses it may be able to hold the manufacturer partially or fully liable for the distributor’s damages (in the case of a manufacturing defect, for example).  

Suing vs. Settling

You may be tempted to conclude that since the majority of product liability claims are resolved through settlement rather than litigation, you can reduce the complexity of your claim by offering to settle instead of filing a lawsuit. The defendant, however, is likely to demand as much evidence as a court will, because there is no reason for him to settle with you if he could win in court. Additionally, many claims are settled only after a number of cases have been tried through a multi-district litigation proceeding.

Another obstacle to settlement is that you are likely to face tough, experienced negotiators on the other side of the bargaining table. An experienced product liability lawyer on your side of the table could turn out to be an asset that pays for itself by increasing the ultimate value of your settlement by far more than the amount of your legal fees.

If you believe that you have been injured by a defective medical implant, our personal injury lawyer search function can help you locate an experienced defective medical device lawyer near you.

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