Quick Answers to Your Top Questions About Injuries in Texas
Wayne Wright LLP keeps our clients and the public informed. We provide answers to frequently asked questions to help our clients face their own legal battles. Contact Wayne Wright LLP to speak with an experienced injury attorney in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, or Austin offices. We will schedule a free case review and answer your specific questions. Our law firm will not stop working until you receive the justice you deserve.
Please click one of the following categories of our Frequently Asked Questions:
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How should I prepare for my first meeting with a car accident attorney?
If you’ve been in a car accident, consulting with a personal injury attorney is almost always a good idea.
Arranging a meeting with an attorney for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking if you’ve never been in this type of situation before. With a little preparation, though, you can help things move along smoothly so that your attorney can help you understand your legal options. Here’s how to get ready to meet a potential attorney for your case, and how you can get legal help today.
What to Bring to Your Consultation
When you arrange your consultation, your accident attorney should be able to tell you what you need to bring with you. Any information that you can provide—even if it’s not something that he or she asked for immediately—may be useful now or in the future, so don’t be shy about bringing supporting documentation. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to have with you:
- Police reports. Any police or accident reports related to the crash can be obtained from the agency that created them, such as the local police, highway patrol, or county sheriff’s office.
- Health care records. Bring your medical records from every provider who saw you for a condition related to a crash, including ambulance and emergency treatment records, hospital records, physical therapy paperwork, and so on. Include copies of any diagnosis made by a doctor, as well as the prognosis for the future and recommendations for future care.
- Health care bills. Along with your actual medical records, bring the bills that you receive from the hospital, clinic, rehabilitation service, chiropractor, psychologist, and any other healthcare providers who charged you for care related to the crash.
- Insurance information. Bring your insurance information, including what your policy covers and in what amount, and any bills you have received from the insurance company.
- Work documentation. If your accident cost you any time away from work, bring any records you can indicating how long you were out, and how much that time away cost you (even if you used sick time or vacation days.)
Don’t forget to bring any other evidence you have related to the crash, too, such as photos of the accident, the damage to your vehicle or other property, photos of your injuries, and so forth. Your attorney will evaluate these photos and all of your other supporting documentation to make a determination about what your best legal options are.
What to Ask an Accident Attorney
In addition to providing the attorney with details of your life and the accident, you should be prepared to get something back, too—so come prepared with questions for your initial consultation, and expect good answers in return. Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How much of your time and practice is dedicated to car accident cases like mine?
- How many accident claims have you handled, and have they ever gone to trial?
- Do you foresee any challenges that may arise from my case?
- Are you the person who will work on my case?
- May I meet any other attorneys who will be working on my case?
- How do you charge for your services? Do you work on contingency?
- What expenses do you think this case will incur?
If the answers that you receive aren’t satisfactory, you are free to move on and choose another firm. Maybe you’ll decide that this attorney isn’t the right one for your case, after all, and you have every right to do so. Don’t be badgered or bullied into accepting the service of someone you’re uncomfortable with.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in an automobile accident and don’t know where to turn to for legal help, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in justice for those who have been injured, and we’re here to stand up for your legal rights in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What’s the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury?
Bringing a child into the world is a joyful but often anxious time for upcoming parents. The months of anticipation and waiting are over, and it’s time for a new life to emerge.
There’s a lot of stress, too, over the health of the new child, especially if the birth didn’t go as planned. When something goes wrong, being able to spot the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury can make a big difference in making sure that your child, and your family, is taken care of.
What Is a Birth Defect?
A birth defect is any form of developmental abnormality or congenital defect present in a baby at birth. Birth defects can affect any organ or system in the body. For example, the heart, lungs, intestines, spinal cord, brain, eyes, ears, bones, limbs, or fingers and toes may be affected. More than one organ or system may be affected, depending on the specific type of birth defect or the presence of multiple defects.
Birth defects may be caused by genetic or inherited conditions, or fetal exposure to toxic substances, but in many cases, the exact cause is unknown. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 3 percent of babies born in the United States every year, or one out of every 33, are born with birth defects.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury, as opposed to a birth defect, is any form of injury that occurs to the baby sometime immediately before, during, or after being born. Birth injuries, unlike defects, are preventable in many cases, depending on the specific circumstances of the birth process. Some of the most common types of birth injuries to occur include:
- Joint dislocations.
- Broken clavicles (collar bones).
- Cranial (head) trauma or skull fractures.
- Brain damage or cerebral palsy caused by hypoxia or anoxia (lack of oxygen).
- Brachial plexus, a type of injury to the upper arm.
- Erb’s palsy, or permanent nerve damage to the upper arm.
When birth injuries happen, they often happen as the result of using tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors. Birth injuries may also happen if the child is mishandled during or after birth, or if the person delivering the child makes an error. Medication errors during childbirth may also result in injury to a newborn.
Some birth injuries may be the result of a failure to monitor and diagnose a treatable condition during pregnancy, such as a vitamin deficiency, anemia, or spina bifida, a condition linked to a deficiency in folic acid. If a doctor failed to test for and treat these common issues and the child is born with one of these conditions, it could be considered medical malpractice, and the family may be able to recover damages in a malpractice suit.
Get Legal Help for Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can be severe, with life-long consequences for the child, and can affect the entire family, too. The injured child may need life-long support, including extensive therapy, multiple surgeries, and special education to have the best possible chance to succeed in life. A medical malpractice lawsuit will allow you to seek the compensation for your child to ensure that his or her needs are met.
If you suspect that your child’s injury was the result of medical malpractice, speak to a personal injury attorney with experience handling birth injury cases as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to assess your situation and help you explore your legal options sooner, rather than later. Not only does Texas maintain strict statutes of limitation for medical malpractice cases, but medical malpractice cases are complex and take time to litigate. The faster you seek legal help, the faster your child can get the help that he or she needs.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of injured children and their families for decades, and we’d like to help you get the justice that your family deserves. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals and talk about your child’s situation, call us by phone, send an email with our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
How is lost income calculated in a Texas personal injury case?
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against someone who has caused you harm, you’re required to show that actual damages have occurred for which you can be financially compensated. These damages typically include the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation or physical therapy; repair or replacement of damaged property (such as your car, after an automobile accident); and compensation for your pain and suffering, too.
Also, you are able to seek compensation for any lost income that resulted from the accident. Here’s what you should know about making a lost income or wages claim after an accident, and how to get legal help with your case.
What Is Included in a Lost Wages Claim?
There are several components to consider in a lost wages damages claim. In its most basic form, this includes compensation for any time that you spent away from work due to your injury, and the money you would have been able to earn if you hadn’t been hurt. This may also include vacation or sick time accrual that you would have received—or days that you had already accrued and had to spend.
Lost wages may also include any bonuses or commissions that you would have been able to receive, and it can even include missed opportunities for promotion or raises, too. If you would have worked overtime during that period, you can seek compensation for that time, as well.
Your claim for lost wages is not dependent on whether you work full-time, part-time, are salaried, hourly, or are self-employed, though you may find the documentation easier if you are employed by someone else. A letter from your company may be all that you need, detailing information such as:
- What your position is or was at the company.
- Your regular working hours.
- Your salary or hourly wage.
- How much time you missed.
Your lawyer will be able to tell you exactly what this letter should include—as well as what may not be necessary, such as how much vacation or sick time you used.
If you’re self-employed, providing these details falls more onto your own shoulders, but isn’t an insurmountable obstacle. You may use canceled or missed appointments or meetings from your calendar as evidence, or show that you had fewer or no invoices or billing activity while you were injured and recovering. It may also be possible to use your previous year’s income tax return as evidence of your annual earnings and use it as a basis for showing what your income should have been if you hadn’t been hurt, and use it to come up with an average weekly or monthly income.
Lost Earning Capacity
You may also be able to make a claim not just for lost wages from your injury in the past, but for future lost wages. This is called a loss of earning capacity or diminished earning capacity. The calculations for this can be complicated, but may take into account multiple factors, including the following:
- Your occupation.
- The level of skill required for your job.
- Market rates or values for your position or wage.
- Your past earnings.
- Your life expectancy.
Since lost earning capacity is very dependent on the specifics of your own situation, your attorney will be able to help you determine whether you’re eligible for a lost earning capacity claim, and if so, what you need to do in order to prove it in court.
Legal Help for Lost Wages After an Accident
If you’ve suffered from a severe accident due to negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We believe in standing up for the legal rights of those who have been hurt, and we’re here to help you seek the compensation that you’re owed in a court of law, even if you may be partially at fault.
To get help from an experienced legal professional, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email message, or click the live chat box on this page right now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.
Are expert witnesses worth the expense in medical malpractice cases?
When you’re trying to prove a medical malpractice case against a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, special expertise is often required to explain information to the jury. Medicine is a highly complex professional field that requires many years of training, and an expert witness is someone who has the specialized knowledge to help you make your case in a court of law.
Is an Expert Witness Required for Your Case?
Yes. Not only does Texas law require that you have at least one expert witness assist in your medical malpractice case, but he or she is vital to proving your case. Choosing the right expert witness can be challenging, and is something that you should do with the help of your attorney, since there are a few important legal requirements that must be met. He or she must:
- Be currently practicing, or have practiced medicine during the time at which the injury occurred.
- Have knowledge of the regular standards of care related to the injury or illness in the claim.
- Have the training or experience necessary to offer an opinion as an expert.
Since finding the right medical professional with the appropriate experience and training is so critical to your case, it’s usually best to follow the recommendations of your lawyer. He or she is likely to already have an idea of a professional who fulfills the legal standards.
How Expert Witnesses Help Your Case
In any medical malpractice lawsuit, there are typically four key points that you must prove to be successful in a court of law. This includes showing that there was a:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have owed you a duty of care, which usually means that you had a doctor-patient relationship at the time of the incident or injury.
- Breach of duty. You must be able to show that the defendant somehow breached that care of duty by failing to act in a way that any other similarly-trained medical professional would have acted in the same type of situation.
- Causation. You must also be able to show that the breach of duty was the cause of your injuries, whether by worsening your condition or causing additional harm, and not due to the initial condition or another outside cause or factor.
- Damages. You must be able to somehow quantify the harm that was done to you by the injury, in the form of damages. This can include a dollar amount for medical bills related to the injury, extra or repeated surgeries or procedures, lost time and wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Your expert witness will usually be a medical professional, such as a doctor, who is familiar with the field of medicine or specialty in which your injury occurred, and is often in the same line of work as the defendant. Your expert witness will be able to express the extent and nature of your situation to the jury in a way that only another medical professional will be able to do.
To demonstrate the facts and prove your points before a jury, your expert witness will come forward and share what his or her experience is and give an opinion as to whether a breach of duty occurred, and may offer supporting evidence, such as articles from medical journals, guidelines from medical boards or other professional medical organizations, or other evidence as fits the situation.
Legal Help for Medical Malpractice
If you believe that you’ve suffered harm due to medical malpractice, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We’ve spent decades standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of medical professionals, and we’re here to help you today. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional, call us by telephone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
Can I sue after a slip and fall injury in a retail store?
Retail stores and other businesses that are open to the public generally have a duty to protect their customers and other visitors, or risk legal consequences when someone gets hurt. While not every slip, trip, or fall accident in a business is grounds for a lawsuit, there are times when an injured person can and should seek compensation.
Here are the facts you need to know about slip and fall accidents in stores, including common injuries suffered, what you need to do to prove your case, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Premises Liability Law Protects Visitors
When a customer visits the property (or premises) of a business, there is an expectation that the owner or manager of the business will provide a reasonable amount of safety. When this expectation is violated, the business may find itself financially liable for any damages that result from injuries to patrons or guests. Legally, this concept is known as premises liability.
Here are a few examples of when premises liability law might come into play:
- Torn carpeting. If a piece of carpet or flooring is damaged and causes someone to fall, the property owner may be liable for the injury.
- Poor lighting. Inadequate lighting or a broken light fixture in an area where a hazard exists could lead to liability for injuries.
- Wet floors. A spill or leak that isn’t either promptly cleaned up or clearly marked off with a sign can easily cause a slip, especially on slick commercial floor surfaces.
Loose or missing handrails on stairs, dangerous obstructions or obstacles in walkways, and many other hazards can all lead to harm to visitors. However, certain legal circumstances are required before the business operator can be found liable.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
Most importantly, the visitor must typically be either an “invitee” or a “licensee” in order to be protected by premises liability. An invitee is someone who has permission (either expressly or implicitly) or to be on the property for the mutual benefit of both the invitee and business owner. For example, a customer is typically an invitee with implied permission to be in the store.
A licensee is someone who has permission to be there for his or her own benefit, such as an off-duty employee, a solicitor, or a loiterer, and is also protected by premises liability law. Trespassers, on the other hand, are not usually afforded any legal protection.
All property owners generally must avoid gross negligence and warn any invitee or licensee of any dangers that may exist on the property. To prove that the property owner is responsible for your injury, you’ll typically need to show that:
- An unsafe condition or hazard existed on the property.
- The property owner either caused, knew about, or should have known about the hazard.
- The property owner did nothing to either fix, block off, or otherwise notify visitors of the hazard.
- The result of this failure to act is what lead to your injury.
It’s important to note that while business operators are expected to provide a reasonable amount of safety, patrons are also expected to take a reasonable amount of care for themselves, too. Slip and fall cases may involve comparative negligence, in which the court looks at how much responsibility it feels that the business had versus the person who was injured. If the injured party is found to be more than 50 percent responsible, he or she may not be able to recover any damages at all.
Otherwise, the amount of damages will be reduced proportionate to the percentage of responsibility that he or she has for the injury. For example, if the court finds that the business is 75 percent liable but that the injured customer was 25 percent liable, the amount of damages that the injured customer will be able to receive will be reduced by 25 percent.
Get Legal Help After a Slip and Fall
Proving a slip and fall case can be difficult, so you should look for a personal injury attorney with plenty of experience handling this type of claim. He or she will be able to help investigate your claim and advise you of what your legal options are.
If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We work hard to help our clients who have been injured in avoidable accidents caused by negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, and we’d like to help you, too. To speak to a qualified legal professional about your situation, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us right now.
Can I trust my attorney?
Many people are often hesitant to hire an attorney, even when they’re in a tough spot and at a time when a lawyer could really help.
There can be a lot of mistrust—not only of attorneys, but of the entire legal system. The legal system is designed to help people resolve disputes and ensure that society as a whole functions smoothly by allowing people to seek redress for wrongs against them. An attorney serves as your representative in that system, as well as a negotiator, intermediary, and spokesperson on your behalf, serving to protect your interests and uphold the law. Without trust, that relationship crumbles.
Here’s what you should know about the ethical rules that lawyers must follow, and how to choose an attorney you can trust when you need legal help after an injury.
Ethical Rules for Attorneys
Your attorney is your guide into the legal world when you have a problem, and it’s absolutely critical that you choose an attorney that you can trust from day one to get the job done the right way, with respect to the client, the legal system, and the law as a whole. You don’t have to be “best friends” with your attorney, but it is vital that you have a level of professional trust in order for your relationship to function smoothly.
While Hollywood may think that stories of unethical lawyers make for great entertainment, in the real world there are actually strict rules that all attorneys must follow with regard to ethics or face serious legal consequences. The American Bar Association maintains a set of model rules of professional conduct that state bar associations may use when developing their own ethical guidelines; ultimately, it’s up to each state to determine what exactly those rules are. In Texas, they are laid out by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which can be found on the State Bar of Texas website. You can also look up any attorney on that website to make sure that his or her license to practice is current and valid, what his or her practice areas are, and see if there are any public disciplinary actions that have been taken against him or her.
The complete list of ethics rules for the legal profession can be complex if you’re not in the field. However, there are a few key responsibilities that all attorneys have that are easy to understand, and that you should be aware of when you pick an attorney to represent you. Your attorney should always:
- Be competent in the area of law in which you seek representation.
- Diligently represent each and every client individually.
- Pursue your legal interests zealously, but within the bounds of the law.
- Provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities.
- Maintain confidentiality of every client.
- Avoid any conflicts of interest and notify clients should one arise.
- Have respect for the legal system, including other legal professionals.
- Seek to uphold and improve the law and the quality of legal services.
Serious violation of the state’s rules of conduct can carry severe punishment for an attorney, including a temporary suspension of the ability to practice law. In more extreme situations, violating the rules can lead to permanent disbarment. This means the lawyer’s license to practice law is permanently revoked, effectively ending the attorney’s career.
Choosing the Right Attorney for You
Whether you already have an attorney or you’re preparing to choose someone to represent you, if you don’t feel as if he or she is upholding the ethical standards of the profession, it’s time to walk away and find someone who will. Never feel like you have to settle for less than the best representative for your legal needs, because ultimately, it’s your interests that are at stake.
Wayne Wright LLP has spent decades fighting for the rights of those who have been injured. Our skilled personal injury attorneys bring years of legal experience and the highest ethical standards to bear when representing each and every one of our clients, and we’re here to help you when you need a lawyer by your side. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a law firm that you can rely on, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What is informed consent?
Whenever you undergo a medical procedure, you have certain legal rights as a patient. Among those is the right to informed consent. When your right to informed consent is violated by a doctor or other healthcare provider and it resulted in harm, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries.
Here’s what you need to know about informed consent and your rights before undergoing any medical procedure, including what informed consent means, how you can be hurt when your informed consent rights are overlooked, and how to get legal help for your medical malpractice case now.
Your Rights as a Patient
Any time a doctor recommends that you undergo a course of treatment, surgery, or other procedure, one of your most important rights is to have informed consent. Simply consenting to a procedure by “signing on the dotted line” does not meet this standard. Your healthcare provider needs to make sure that you have the relevant facts so that you can make your own decision about the risks and benefits of treatment and how it may affect your life.
At a minimum, your healthcare provider should be providing you with information such as:
- A differential diagnosis, or list of potential causes of your condition.
- Why he or she believes treatment or procedure is necessary.
- A description of the treatment or procedure.
- The benefits to your health that the treatment or procedure can provide.
- Any risks involved in the treatment or procedure.
- The expected outcome of the treatment or procedure.
- The risks and benefits of not agreeing to the treatment or procedure.
Your healthcare provider should also be willing to discuss any alternative treatment options that may exist—even if your insurance company doesn’t cover them. He or she should be able to discuss the risks and benefits of those alternatives, as well, and provide an explanation for anything you don’t understand. Remember, it’s your own health at stake—if you have a question, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask!
Your doctor has a duty to make sure that you clearly understand the facts without being pressured or coerced into treatment that you don’t want or wouldn’t agree to if you knew the risks.
There are some exceptions to informed consent, in specific circumstances. For instance, if you become unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, the doctor is generally allowed to treat you without informed consent.
When Your Rights Are Violated
If you underwent a treatment or procedure (such as surgery) that left you injured and you don’t feel like you were adequately informed of the risks, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. To prove your case before the court, though, you and your attorney will have some work to do. Consider the following questions that may be asked by a judge or jury:
- Before the procedure, did the doctor discuss the risk of the injury you suffered?
- If you had known about that risk, would you still have undergone the treatment?
- Did the doctor try to downplay the risk, when it was in fact a likely outcome?
The judge or jury will look at whether or not a “reasonable” doctor of similar training and experience would have discussed the risk of your type of injury with a patient. Your own background and education can come into play, too; if you work in health care, for example, the doctor may not be required to explain as much as he or she would to someone without a medical background.
Get Legal Help Today
If you think you may have a case for an injury caused by a lack of informed consent, a personal injury attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases may be able to help. You could be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, and long-term care, as well as for your pain and suffering.
To find out how you may be able to file your own medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider, Wayne Wright LLP can help you. Contact us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional today.
How are pain and suffering valued in a personal injury case?
After you’ve been hurt in a car or other type of accident that was caused by negligence, you’re entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit and receive compensation from the responsible person or parties. This compensation can include different types of financial awards, called damages. Economic damages are relatively straightforward to calculate, but non-economic damages such as pain and suffering can be more difficult to reach an agreement over.
Here’s what you need to know about how pain and suffering—and other non-economic damages—are valued during your personal injury case.
What Does Pain and Suffering Mean?
When economic damages are considering during your case, the numbers are fairly easy to calculate, and are based on your hospital and doctor’s bills, including the price of medications, any surgeries, rehabilitation or physical therapy, and other expenses that are quantified on an invoice or bill. Pain and suffering damages, however, are not as easy to add up, as it can include such subjective concepts as:
- The amount of physical pain suffered.
- Fear, terror, or grief.
- Embarrassment, anxiety, or humiliation.
- Stress, shock, or other emotional pain and trauma.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
The insurance company, judge, or jury won’t be able to look at an itemized bill that neatly totals up the exact cost of these types of injuries, but there are certain methods that are commonly used to come to a total.
Valuing Non-Economic Damages
There’s no exact formula or calculation that the court or a jury will use when considering your award for non-economic damages, so there are a number of methods that they may use to come up with a value that makes sense for your situation. This may be, but is not always, based on a “multiplier” value of your economic damages, between one to five times the total amount of your economic damages. The law does not require the use of this kind of multiplier, though, nor does it usually cap non-economic awards in personal injury.
To begin assessing your physical pain, a jury may begin by looking at what kinds of injuries you have, as well as how many overall injuries there are. They may also look at the extent and severity of those injuries, and your tolerance for pain, and should take into consideration your health prior to the accident, and your long-term outlook for recovery. The length of your hospitalization, whether you needed repeated trips to the doctor, and how much physical therapy or rehabilitation you need will likely play a role in the calculation. Prescribed pain medication may also be considered as an indicator not only of how bad your injuries are, but what your level of pain tolerance is.
Emotional pain can be even more difficult to quantify than physical pain, but the need for emotional therapy may play a role in the calculation, as may testimony from doctors, mental health professionals, or others who have witnessed a change in your personality.
Documentation of your injuries, whether physical or mental, can play a key role in your damage award determination. When you discuss your injuries with your doctor, therapist, or other health care professional, don’t be shy or think that you can “stick it out” without mentioning a problem you’re having that’s related to the accident, no matter how small, because it can later become an invaluable resource for proving to the court exactly how bad your injuries are—and the compensation that you should be fairly awarded as a result.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you’ve been seriously hurt in an accident that could have been avoided but for someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, you’re entitled to seek compensation in a court of law. Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured for decades, and we would like to help you recover from your injuries. To speak to an experienced legal professional about your accident, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box right now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.
Who is responsible for my medication-related injury?
Though not all medication-related issues are grounds for a lawsuit, there are times when it’s wholly appropriate to seek compensation for an injury caused by a prescription. A lawsuit can help pay for medical bills and ongoing treatment related to the issue, rehabilitation, lost wages due to time spent away from work, and things like pain and suffering, too. But in order to pursue damages, it becomes a question of responsibility: who or what caused your injury? The answer depends on the nature of the incident.
Here’s what you need to know about determining liability after suffering harm from a dangerous drug, and how you can get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Holding Manufacturers Liable for Dangerous Drugs
If the injuries caused by a drug were directly related to the manufacturing methods or distribution of the medication, the manufacturer may be held liable. For example, if the company’s production facility didn’t follow proper procedures and it resulted in an impure or contaminated drug that hurt patients, a lawsuit aimed at the manufacturer may be an appropriate response.
Another common situation in dangerous drug lawsuits is called “failure to warn.” In cases like these, a drug has a particular dangerous side effect or effects, yet the maker of the drug did not disclose the risks to doctors or patients. In some cases, it may even be possible to show that the manufacturer deliberately hid the evidence in order to gain FDA approval or sell more of the drug. In this type of situation, not only may the manufacturer be found liable for the harm caused to the patients who suffered, but the court may choose to award punitive or exemplary damages above and beyond the normal damages to financially punish the company for wrongdoing.
Improper marketing is another major concern for which manufacturers can be held liable. For example, if a manufacturer advertises a drug as being safe for a certain condition, yet evidence later proves otherwise, victims of bad marketing can file a lawsuit to recover damages caused by the drug.
Other Liable Parties in a Dangerous Drug Lawsuit
Doctors, nurses, and other personnel responsible for the prescribing, delivery, or administration of a drug could be liable for the injuries caused by a drug in certain cases. For example, a doctor may be found liable for a failure to warn, if he or she did not inform the patient about potentially dangerous side effects of a drug before prescribing or administering it. Medical professionals may also be found liable if they failed to give the patient proper instructions as to how the medication should be used, or if the wrong medication was dispensed.
Pharmacists may be liable for dangerous drugs, as well. A pharmacist may breach the duty of care he or she owes to patients in several ways, such as:
- By failing to ensure the right medication is dispensed
- By failing to ensure that the label is correct.
- By failing to warn a customer that there could be dangerous interactions with other drugs.
Sometimes certain drugs are mixed by special compounding pharmacies. These pharmacies may be independent, or part of a clinic or hospital environment, and are used to create specialty medications or blends of medications that are tailored to the unique needs of a particular patient’s condition. However, if these pharmacies make mistakes or don’t obey cleanliness standards, contaminants can be introduced, causing major harm. In such cases, it may be the pharmacy as well as the hospital or other institution that houses it that is responsible for the error.
Legal Help for Dangerous Drugs
Dangerous drug lawsuits are complicated and most lawsuits involve the liability of many parties, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, manufacturers, distributors, sales representatives, and more. When you choose an attorney with experience handling dangerous drug cases like yours, he or she will be able to perform a thorough investigation to help you determine all potentially liable parties and maximize your potential compensation.
If you’ve been injured due to a dangerous drug, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We’ve spent decades standing up for the sick and injured by fighting against drug companies, insurers, negligent medical providers, and others whose actions have resulted in serious harm. To talk to a qualified professional about your legal situation, call us by telephone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What is gross negligence?
In personal injury law, most cases rely on the concept of “ordinary negligence.” Legally speaking, ordinary negligence occurs when someone fails to act with ordinary prudence or care in a situation, either through action or by failing to act. When harm is the result of negligence, a lawsuit can help the victim recover financially through the awarding of damages.
There are times, though, when the simple definition of ordinary negligence isn’t enough, because the situation involved a real and blatant disregard for the safety of others. This type of situation is called “gross negligence.” Here’s what you need to know about gross negligence, how it affects your case, and how you can get legal help if you’ve been injured.
Understanding Legal Negligence
To understand gross negligence, it’s important to first understand that ordinary negligence cases have four key components that must be proven in court to be successful. These components are:
- The defendant must have owed a duty of care to the injured party.
- There must have been a breach of that duty.
- The breach of duty must have been the proximate (immediate) cause of harm.
- There must be damages that can be compensated for.
Ordinary negligence law says that victims need only demonstrate these facts to the jury with a “preponderance of evidence.” This means that the defendant has a burden of proof to show—using better evidence than the plaintiff—that he or she did not breach a duty of care in a harmful way.
If the jury decides, based on the evidence presented by both sides, that the defendant is more likely guilty than not, then the victim is able to receive a financial award (called damages) to compensate for his or her losses. This can include economic damages, such as medical bills, rehabilitation, property replacement, and other real costs or expenses. It can also include non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, emotional pain and anguish, disfigurement, inconvenience, and more.
How Is Gross Negligence Different From Ordinary Negligence?
Gross negligence is a stronger charge than ordinary negligence and comes with greater legal consequences for the defendant, so the court requires a higher legal standard of evidence. For gross negligence, the victim must provide evidence that is “clear and convincing” in order to succeed with his or her claim, which can be challenging. Texas negligence laws state:
- There must be “an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others.”
- The actor must have “actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”
If both of these conditions can be proven in a “clear and convincing” manner to the court and the jury unanimously agrees, the victim becomes eligible to receive a third type of damage award, called exemplary or punitive damages. Exemplary damages are intended to punish the defendant financially, as well as act as a deterrent against similar behavior in the future, either by the defendant or others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Since gross negligence cases involve proving intent and have such a higher evidentiary standard, the legal process can be more intensive and time-consuming than an ordinary negligence case. You’ll need help from an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the challenges inherent in a gross negligence case. He or she will be able to advise you about all of your legal options, and whether your case meets the criteria of gross negligence.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been harmed by somebody’s carelessness, recklessness, or wrongdoing and don’t know who to turn to for legal help, Wayne Wright LLP is here for you. We’ve made it our job to stand up for the rights of victims of accidents and injuries, so that they can get the compensation that they’re owed in a court of law. To get help from an experienced legal professional, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us about your legal situation today.