Recently, POTUS Donald Trump declared opioids a public health emergency, sparking a new legal focus on the problem. As personal injury attorneys, you may receive questions concerning potential lawsuits from callers about opioid addiction.
The main question posed is exactly who is to blame for their addition; themselves, their doctor, or the drug companies. With respect to doctors, questions of liability arise because they owe their patients a duty of care. If doctors are not sufficiently engaged with the patients’ treatment, they can over-prescribe and fail to see addictive tendencies. They could be liable for malpractice.
As to the drug companies producing these drugs, courts have been reluctant in the past to hold the companies liable, stating the individual is responsible. However, given the new public health emergency regarding opioids, this could change. Because the drugs are so terribly addictive, the question has to be pushed as to whether the individual is truly responsible. In addition, these are medications prescribed by their physicians; not drugs bought illegally. They are prescribed for certain serious medical conditions. Are patients supposed to be sufficiently aware of pharmacology, or should that burden be on the shoulders of the drug companies and physicians?
Some drug companies in the past have been sued and lost because they did not adequately warn the user of all of the possible side-effects. In the instance of opioid production, if it can be proven that the company knew how addictive the drugs were but failed to put a warning on the label, they could be held liable.
In addition to malpractice and/or a product liability claim, there is also the possibility of a wrongful death suit, if patients fatally overdose on their opioid prescription.
Opioids and marijuana cause of surprising number of car crash fatalities
To make matters worse, the opioid crisis also affects the unsuspecting on the nation’s highways.
A new study published by the Governors Highway Safety Association reports that close to two-thirds of drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents tested positive for opioids, marijuana or a combination of the two.
This driving-drugged report concludes that states have to move more quickly in developing reliable roadside testing and in providing better law enforcement training to detect those driving under the influence of these and other drugs.
The Governors’ report is not the only study that shows more people are driving high. For example, in 2006, nearly 28 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs. In 2016, that number increased to 43.6 percent.
As personal injury attorneys, you can help get the word out
Many potential clients may not be forthcoming about their drug addiction, feeling guilt and shame thinking it was their own fault. As personal injury lawyers, you may want to advertise your services to victims of the opioid crisis in your social media posts, on your website, or in other advertising venues to let them know they may have legal recourse. In addition, personal injury representation caused by drugged drivers is also important.
If you need assistance with getting the word out concerning the opioid crisis to possible victims, give us a call at Group Matrix. We can help you with any and all aspects of this specialized marketing approach.
Group Matrix Blog – June 18, 2018 – by Sharon Bowles