Despite being highly addictive and often deadly, opioid drugs are still being prescribed by doctors. Many people learn from their own experience the dangers of these powerful drugs. Opioid manufacturers know the power of their products, and there are towns in the United States that have more prescriptions than individuals, which is clear evidence of abuse.
Doctors have received kickbacks from companies for prescribing their products, and some opioid drug marketing could be seen as targeting teenagers and kids. It would seem that profitability has been placed before the health and safety of both patients and the public at large.
Canadian lawsuits have alleged that the manufacturers are aware of the abuse of opioids. American lawsuits are expected to follow this model, with the first group lawsuits being started. If you or a loved one have been exploited by the dangerous opioid industry, you may have a legal case.
With addicts becoming more like customers than patients, parallels could be drawn to the tobacco industry that is known for underrepresenting the dangers of its products. Likewise, manufacturers have in many cases been selective in the information shared with doctors, and this has led to incomplete and misleading information being shared with patients. Today, we see the results with approximately 91 opioid overdoses daily and a death toll set to surpass that of World War 2 within 10 years of this writing.
If you don’t want to watch the video, there is a transcript at the end of this article.
To be eligible for lawsuits currently being filed, the person injured or killed by opioid use must have had a prescription at the time. Compensation for successful cases is expected to likely cover rehab costs, lost wages, and perhaps funeral expenses where applicable. Damages for pain and suffering may be available, and punitive damages may apply in some cases.
Our lawsuits will not require you to pay us money up front, and it is very unlikely that you would have to go in court or even meet with us in person. The cases may be Multi-District Lawsuits (MDLs) or Class Action Drug Injury Lawsuits. The MDL is approved at the time of writing, will combine cases throughout the United States, and will take place in an Ohio court. Contact us if you believe you have such a case. Watch the video to learn more.
If you have questions about opioids or would like to discuss whether you should join a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, I want you to call me at 800-544-2108. I welcome your call.
Read More About the Opioid Lawsuits
Hi. I’m Neil Woods with Woods and Woods Attorneys. Today we’re going to have a talk about the opioid crisis. Our law firm has been around since 1985. We’ve handled all kinds of different lawsuits and been a part of all kinds of class actions and lawsuits against big corporations, but the opioid crisis I think is one of the most important legal battles that is going to come across this desk, maybe during my entire career.
The big reason for that is we’re talking huge numbers of people that have been killed, injured by opioids. Everybody probably knows someone that has died from an opioid overdose. I do. I know people that I went to high school with. Every few months, I’ll see on Facebook that someone I knew, who was a pretty good person and not a drug user, dies from an opioid overdose. One of the most recent examples is someone that I knew who had a fairly small injury from weightlifting. They started using Vicodin from that injury. Within about three years, they died, because they were an addict. But they kept getting it from their doctors. The doctors kept prescribing it to them. They kept saying they had pain. They’d keep taking more and more and more as the time goes on.
Here’s who we think we can help in this opioid crisis. As you may know, this litigation is so new that no one really knows exactly where it’s going to go. There’s been a similar cases in Canada. That went through, and there was very favorable results for the plaintiffs against the opioid manufacturers. That’s what we’re hoping to replicate here in the US.
But right now, if you overdose from a prescribed opioid medication, I think we can help you or your family. The majority of the people who are going to be plaintiffs in this are family members because of the serious nature of opioids and just for the fact that they’re extremely deadly.
The big thing here is people go, “How was there a lawsuit here against the opioid manufacturers?” The opioid manufacturers created this crisis. Just flat out, they didn’t follow some laws. There’s all kinds of things that they did wrong. The first one they did is there’s some of these towns out there in North Carolina, West Virginia, and all over the country, there are more opioid prescriptions than there are actual people living there. That should’ve been a trigger to these opioid companies that something is going on, that their product’s being abuse, and that it’s probably more than just for medical treatment.
Now the opioid manufacturers for decades have just turned a blind eye to the suspicious orders to pharmacies that are filling more prescriptions than they should. They’ve totally ignored pill mills. They’ve let this thing go on, because when you get addicted, you’re no longer a patient. You’re now a customer. It’s like cigarettes, and that’s how we think these lawsuits are going to be a lot like the tobacco litigation, in fact. The drug manufacturers also, there was a big group of them a couple years ago that pled guilty to criminal law violations. They were paying kickbacks to doctors. There were doctors that received Cadillacs for selling enough opioids.
The drug manufacturers were sending their drug reps into doctors’ offices to promote opioids for off-label use. Essentially what you had then is you had employees of the opioid manufacturers going to your local doctor and telling them, “Oh, don’t worry. These medicines are not as dangerous as they seem on the surface. You can use them for all kinds of other off-label uses.”
At the same time, these opioid manufacturers had extensive marketing schemes. I mean, they were advertising to everybody. Some of you have seen in the news the makers of Oxycontin were actually handing out kids’ toys, stuffed animal kids’ toys, with Oxycontin on it. They’re handing out frisbees, pens, all kinds of little trinkets, and tee shirts, and coffee mugs. This is a product that potentially kills people, and they’re handing toys to children. What they were doing is they were promoting these drugs to kids, to teenagers.
As we know, a lot of people, they start abusing these pretty early on in life. One of the things that the opioid manufacturers did too is they really did mislead the public on the addictiveness of these opioid medications. That means a lot of doctors out there were making uninformed decision, because the doctor is saying, “These drugs are not as addictive as some of the other medicines that were offered.” Well, that wasn’t true.
What really was happening is the opioid manufacturers were releasing select information, and doctors were really blindly making decisions. How bad exactly is the opioid overdose epidemic? Right now, there’s 91 opioid overdoses a day. Ninety-one people die every single day from opioid drug overdoses. Just to put it in perspective, here’s how many people are dying. Over the next 10 years, opioid medications will kill more people, more Americans, than World War II. That’s a pretty alarming number. Right here, the US sales of prescription opioids quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. In a five-year period, the number of people getting prescriptions quadrupled. There wasn’t on the other end four times as many people with pain problems or injuries.
What was happening there? What was happening there is the drug manufacturers were getting better at pushing opioid medications at doctors’ offices, pill mills, and in getting people essentially addicted to these drugs. Right now, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for people under age 50. A few years ago, that was replaced by car accidents. Put that into perspective. You will know more people over the next few years that will die from opioid drug overdoses than car accidents. What compensation are families and victims going to get out of these lawsuits? It’s hard to say right at the beginning, because this litigation is pretty new. It’s just making its way through the court system.
The first thing is we think victims and family members may be able to have drug rehabilitation class covered. Because of the addictive quality of opioids, if you were addicted, and you went to drug treatment facilities, those costs may be recouped in lawsuits against the opioid manufactures. As we all know, drug treatment is not cheap. Some families may have spent thousands of dollars during several different stays. The other one is lost wages. If you or your family member you lost missed time from work from their injuries, there could be compensation for those lost wages. Funeral expenses. Because a large number of the plaintiffs in this are going to be surviving family members, a lot of plaintiffs may receive funeral expenses to cover all of those expenses related to their loved one’s death.
Medical expenses, drug overdoses, medical stays, hospital bills, these things get out of control fast. If there was an overdose in the past, and it required a lot of medical treatment, those medical bills could be reimbursed by this lawsuit. Pain and suffering, the law allows people to recover in personal injury lawsuits for pain and suffering. That may be a part of these settlements as well.
Punitive damages, these are a little harder to get. You’re still going to see these out there sometimes. Punitive damages are basically when companies act egregious, the law can basically penalize them for those actions by punitive damages. The eligibility on these lawsuits, the first big step is the person who was injured or died must have had a prescription at the time of the injury. We get a lot of calls from families, and they say, “My child died from Vicodin.” They were not prescribed it, or they used a prescription Vicodin and then years later developed a heroin problem and died from that.
I hate to tell you this, but unfortunately right now, we just don’t see that the law is going to allow these people to recover who do not have prescriptions. Here’s why. Basically, we are trying to prove that the opioid manufacturers produced a dangerous product, and they knew it was dangerous. There were alternatives to these dangerous products, and they chose not to go the safer route. It’s really hard to argue that you are owed compensation from a company when you weren’t even supposed to have access to this medicine in the first place.
Down the road, the lawsuit may open up, and it may include people who were injured by nonprescription opioids, but right now, there had to have been a prescription at the time of injury. If your family lost a loved one, your family can join the lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers.
Once again, the person who your family lost must have had a prescription at the time of injury. If you were hospitalized and you had a prescription, we want to talk to you. We think there’s something we may be able to do here for you. You may be eligible to join this lawsuit.
What if I’m not sure what opioid caused the injury? If it was a family member that you lost, and you’re not sure what opioid they were on, but you know that they had a prescription, give us a call. We can investigate. If we think there’s something we see there, we can always subpoena records from doctors’ offices and obtain medical records. Then we can find out from there.
What if my family member died from complications of an overdose later? Let’s say in January, your family member had an overdose, went into the hospital, and then in March died from complications later on down the road. Your family may be able to join the lawsuit as well. If the death stemmed from the overdose, then you may be eligible to join.
One of the big questions is how much am I going to receive from the opioid lawsuit? It’s really hard to say at this point, because this litigation is just so new. We really don’t know. If an attorney tells you that you’re going to get X amount of dollars, they probably aren’t being very honest with you, because no one knows yet. It’s just really new litigation, and these things take a while to go through the road to figure out what plaintiffs are going to get. The other thing we always have is what are my chances of winning the opioid lawsuit? This is another unknown. This litigation is so new, we can’t guarantee anything. These cases may not be won. That’s the truth of it, but the way that our law firm looks at it is this is a fight that we felt the need to take on. We felt the need to go after these opioid manufactures for the tens of thousands of Americans that are just dying from these medicines.
One of the biggest questions people ask us is, “Yeah, I’d like to hire a lawyer, but I don’t know that I can afford one.” Well, that’s okay. Don’t worry about paying your lawyer. Here’s how the fees will work on these cases. Woods and Woods is just not going to ask for money up front. We know that a lot of families that lost a loved one, that loved one may have been the breadwinner or that income was needed for the family to make ends meet. That’s fine. We don’t expect you to pay anything up front. The way you’ll pay your lawyer in these cases is if we win the case. If we don’t win these cases, you don’t pay anything. Our law firms involved in this are going to actually … if they don’t win, then the law firms will actually eat the cost of the litigation, and that does not get passed on to the client.
The other one is, “Will I need to go in the office to meet my opioid overdose lawyer?” No, you’re not. We handle these on a nationwide basis. Virtually no clients are going to have to go to court on this. This isn’t your typical kind of case where there’s a trial and a jury. There’s really two different forms too that this litigation may take. One is a multi-district litigation. The other one is a class action lawsuit. There’s a couple competing ones out there. The multi-district litigation was approved this year, so the MDL is out there. People are putting cases in it. This is going to go through. It’s in an Ohio court, but they’re compiling all the cases from all over the country into one. This is pretty new litigation.
If you or a loved one were hurt by a prescribed opioid, just give us a call. We can talk about what options are available to you and your family. We can discuss this, but what we really want to do is get as many people as we can. We want to fight the opioid manufacturers. What they’ve done is wrong, maybe even a little over the line of evil. They know that they are addicting people, and they know that it’s killing people. If you or a loved one, if you were hurt, give us a call. Help us in this fight against the opioid manufacturers.