Product Liability claims Involving a Medical Device

ISTOCK IMAGE ID 29465616When someone is injured or suffers due to a defective product, they may have grounds for a defective product liability claim. Sometimes a person uses a medical device to help their health, but ends up suffering injury from the device. “Medical device” refers to any device used to better someone’s health, or to treat a disease, illness, injury, or disability. If any such device malfunctions or causes injury, the victim might have grounds for a product liability claim. Medical devices commonly involved in such lawsuits include:

  • Defibrillators, which are small electronic devices that maintain a patient’s normal heart rhythm.
  • Stents, or tubes which prevent an artery blockage.
  • Implants, which are synthetic devices that restore function to a patient’s disabled body part.
  • Contraceptive devices

Much like other product liability claims, there are various types of claims for a case involving a medical device. There are three types of claims:

  • Defectively manufactured medical devices. In this case, you are claiming the device was defective or damaged when it was manufactured. It includes any damage that occurred during manufacturing, shipping, or at the hospital or doctor’s office.
  • Medical devices with a dangerous design. In this type of claim, the product was correctly manufactured, but the design was incorrect or unreasonably dangerous.
  • Defectively marketed medical devices. This claim is stating that the marketing of the product, which includes warnings and instructions included with the product, was insufficient or incorrect. The incorrect warnings, advice, or instructions can come from the manufacturer, doctor, hospital sales representative, or other medical provider.

It is important to note that there could be various defendants in your product liability claim. There are several entities involved in the chain of distribution of a medical device, and any potential defendant should be included. Defendants may include:

  • Manufacturer. Typically, the manufacturer for a medical device will be a large company.
  • Testing laboratory. This includes all testing laboratories involved in testing the performance of the product, especially if they are independent of the manufacturer.
  • Medical sales representative. A sales representative is the “middleman” between the device’s manufacturer and the doctor or medical provider, who recommends the device and it’s possible applications. They may be liable if they recommended the product which caused you injury.
  • Doctor. Your doctor could be liable if they recommended the device and failed to give adequate advice, warnings, or instructions for the device.
  • Hospital or clinic. Any entity involved in the chain of distribution between the manufacturer and you could be held liable.
  • Retail supplier. If you obtained the device from a pharmacy or drugstore, that supplier could be held liable.

In any product liability claim, you will have to prove three things; 1) you were injured, 2) the medical device was defectively manufactured, designed, or marketed, and; 3) the defective device caused your injury. Additionally, you may consider also suing for medical malpractice. Though the grounds for medical malpractice is different from those of a product liability case, you could potentially include both claims in your case.

It is also important to note that there is a statute of limitations for product liability claims. In California, you have 2 years from the time of your injury to file a claim.


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