On its face, drug addiction seems like a self-control issue that has consequences, many of them dire. If the opioid crisis has taught us anything, it’s that addiction knows no color, class, or creed. If you or someone close to you has overdosed on prescription opioids, you may have some recourse in the Fort Lauderdale court system. Read on to learn more about legal culpability from pharmacists and your rights under some of the new legislation in Florida.
Defining Legal Responsibility for Opioid Overdose
Most legislation regarding a pharmacists’ responsibility for prescription drug overdose dates back to the Doctrine of Responsibility put forth by the DEA in 1971. Under that regulation, a pharmacist has a duty to exercise diligence and care when filling and dispensing prescriptions. That means dispensing the proper medication as written by a doctor and calling to verify prescriptions for controlled substances.
In addition, pharmacists may be found liable for injury or death due to overdose under the corresponding responsibility part of the regulation, in conjunction with the prescribing physician. The DEA also states that pharmacists may be liable if they fail to identify certain red flags like cash payments or customers coming from another town or area to fill their prescription.
Opioid Overdose Injuries Not Resulting in Death
People rarely overdose intentionally. Most drug overdoes are due to:
Prescribing incorrect medication: either giving the patient a different medication than prescribed that isn’t an approved substitute, filing the wrong amount or dosage, or providing incorrect instructions. They are also liable if they fail to warn about possible side effects or drug interactions.
Pharmacy errors: These include mislabeling or accidentally giving you someone else’s prescription
Although about 76.1% of all drug overdose result in death, those that don’t can leave you with complications and long-term medical problems. These include:
– Brain damage
– Organ damage
– Organ failure
Although most personal injury claims are filed to obtain compensation for medical care, lost ages, and rehabilitative care, a growing number of pharmacists and medical professionals are faces other consequences that include loss of license, punitive damages, fines, and imprisonment.
How to Proceed if You Think You Have a Case
Legal responsibility for an overdose, whether or not it results in death, usually falls under the umbrella of negligence in personal injury cases. In situations where a pharmacist knowingly filled a prescription for a controlled substance illegally, either for profit or otherwise, criminal charges may be filed.
The Filing Process
If you or a family member has overdosed on prescription opiates, and you feel the pharmacist was to blame, your first step is to find a personal injury lawyer who specializes in malpractice or negligence cases. Your lawyer will offer you a consultation to go over the facts and determine if you have a case.
Timeliness is a factor when filing a personal injury or malpractice lawsuit. In the state of Florida, there are different statutes of limitations in personal injury cases. For regular personal injury cases, the cut off date to file a lawsuit is four years from the date of the incident. If your case is against a government agency, you only have three years. In personal injury cases that result in a death, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the person’s death.
Your Responsibilities During Your Case, and Your Lawyer’s
Your lawyer will discuss the facts surrounding your case and explain the legal implications. If he or she decides to represent you, they’ll probably walk you through the legal process, explain what you need to do, and what documentation or evidence you need to have. You should also settle fees at this time. Many personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency, meaning they’ll take a percentage of your settlement if you win.
Communication with your lawyer or his office is essential. Your lawyer should keep you fully informed of developments, and you should do the same for them. It’s also important to follow all legal advice, such as making sure you keep medical appointments and gather any evidence you have. You should cease all contact with insurance companies and lawyers for the defense during this time, and turn over any correspondence. Your lawyer will handle all contact and negotiations until the case is resolved.
Consulting with a lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who specializes in personal injury and liability offers you local representation from an attorney who knows the process. Contact us today to arrange a consultation (954) 473-1500