The Different Types of Defects | What You Need to Prove | Examples of Defective Medical Device Claims
The miracles of modern medicine include stents, implants, prosthetics, and wonder drugs. But when your doctor prescribes a device or product, you expect, at a minimum, that your condition won’t get worse. Unfortunately, that’s far too often exactly what happens.
Medical device companies sometimes take inadequate measures to evaluate the safety of a particular product or determine its potential side effects. A manufacturer may fail to include proper warnings about how to use a product or about known problems or even defects.
If you follow your doctor’s orders and end up worse than when you started, that’s when you want to retain an experienced product liability lawyer who handles medical-device claims.
What Are the Different Types of Legal Claims Based on Defective Medical Devices?
As a general rule, there are three different legal theories that can be used to support a product liability lawsuit:
- Design defect—This type of claim alleges negligence in the design of a device. Such a claim can be made even if there were no defects in the manufacture or marketing of the device. In order to succeed with a design defect claim, the injured person must show that there is an actual or hypothetical alternative design that would have made the product safer. The alternative design must also be economically feasible and practical, and it must maintain the primary objectives of the original design.
- Manufacturing defect—To succeed with a manufacturing defect claim, you must prove that there was negligence in the fabrication, construction, or assembly of the medical device, and that you were injured while using the device for its intended purpose. Manufacturing defects may involve allegations of using substandard parts, failing to include essential components in assembling the device, or failing to have adequate quality control procedures in place, among other things.
- Marketing defect—Even when there are no defects in either the design or manufacture of a device, an injured person may still have a product liability claim based on negligent marketing. Such a claim typically includes three elements that the injured party must prove:
- The defendant knew of a specific danger associated with a device or product;
- The defendant failed to warn users of the danger or failed to instruct them on how to safely use the product; and
- The failure to provide proper warning or instructions for use caused the injury suffered by the claimant.
Examples of Dangerous and Defective Medical Device Claims
A vast number of medical device lawsuits have been filed in recent years. Here are two examples:
- Claims involving hip implants—Most litigation related to hip implants has involved metal-on-metal devices, where the metal ball and metal cup slide against each other during walking or running. Such devices can result in metal particles being released into the space around the implant, causing tissue damage, bone loss, and metal poisoning. In one class action lawsuit, defendant Johnson & Johnson settled for over $1 billion.
- IVC filter complaints—The inferior vena cava, or IVC, is a large vein that carries blood to the heart. IVC filters were designed to catch blood clots in the IVC before the clots get to the heart. Studies show that devices can cause injury because they are prone to breaking apart, perforating the IVC or other organs, or moving within the IVC. A number of IVC lawsuits have been settled for more than a million dollars.