Fort Worth Opioid Litigation
The United States has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of new opioid addiction cases and a disturbing spike in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the country in the past several years. The ongoing opioid crisis has reached such levels that the Trump administration formally declared the opioid epidemic to be a national emergency, one that requires our full attention.
Opioid medications are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the country, with some states reporting prescription rates of more than one per resident. The unfortunate reality is that opioids, while very effective at treating some types of pain, are incredibly addictive. This has led to much speculation concerning the liability of opioid manufacturers and wholesalers in relation to the growing number of opioid-related deaths in the country.
What Is a Mass Tort?
In the legal world, a tort refers to any action by a person or company that results in damages to another person. A mass tort applies the same way on a larger scale, when a person or company causes harm to many people through a specific action. In the case of the opioid epidemic, many legal experts believe that the opioid industry faces mass tort litigation on a scale comparable to what the tobacco industry faced in recent years. The experts also estimate that the damages caused by opioid manufacturers and wholesalers in the United States at this point could exceed $1 trillion.
Litigation for opioid prescriptions may also fall under toxic tort law, which pertains to dangerous drugs that create adverse or unintended side effects that result in injuries to prescription holders. Mass torts of this kind hinge on product liability law, which requires plaintiffs to prove that a product was dangerous or defective.
A mass tort for opioid litigation could involve multiple patients suing a doctor who over-prescribed opioid medications to collect bonuses from the manufacturer. Another possibility could be a group of patients from all over the country filing mass tort action against an opioid manufacturer for failing to disclose known side effects that resulted in injuries. While a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent entity may work on the individual level in some cases, most people who suffer damages from prescription opioid painkillers fare better in mass tort actions, or class-action lawsuits.
How Do I Join a Class-Action Lawsuit?
If you have suffered injuries or other damages from a dangerous opioid medication, there is likely already a class-action lawsuit in progress against the manufacturer, or perhaps against a wholesaler of the drug. An attorney will be your best resource for determining the best option for legal recourse. In some situations, it may behoove a plaintiff to pursue an individual legal claim, while other circumstances may dictate that joining a class-action lawsuit would yield a better result.
It’s important for people involved in any type of opioid litigation to remember that class-action lawsuits are double-edged swords. It is generally more affordable for a plaintiff to join a class-action lawsuit than to file an individual claim, and a class-action suit will progress much more quickly than multiple individual claims. However, a class-action lawsuit will yield a lump settlement the plaintiffs will divide equally. This often results in much lower compensation per plaintiff compared to how much they might win in individual claims.
Know Your Rights
If you or a loved one suffered illness, injury, or unintended side effects from a prescribed opioid medication, it’s essential to act quickly to prevent further injury and secure your legal rights. The Law Offices of Tom Hall offer free consultations to clients in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, so contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.