People who developed an addiction to prescription opioid medications such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Percodan, and Demerol may be able to sue the drug manufacturers for negligence. Possible compensatory damages that opioid victims may be able to recover include:
- hospital bills and long-term care,
- lost earnings,
- loss of future earnings, and/or
- pain and suffering
It seems every day the headlines are dominated by stories of America's opioid epidemic. Nevadans suffering from opioid addiction are encouraged to seek help at the Seven Hills Hospital Opioid Addiction Treatment Center or other rehabilitation programs.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Opioid lawsuits in Nevada, including bringing negligence claims, the plaintiff's burden of proof, and the statute of limitations for bringing a negligence claim. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. What can I do if I got addicted to opioids in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. What money can I get if I am addicted to opioids in Las Vegas, NV?
- 3. Whom can I sue for my opioid addiction in Las Vegas, NV?
- 4. How do I prove an opioid claim in Las Vegas, NV?
- 5. When can I sue for my opioid addiction in Las Vegas, NV?
- 6. What are opioids used for?
- 7. Have opioids been recalled?
- 8. Opioid resources
Patients who were prescribed and then became addicted to opioids in Nevada may have the legal basis to file a negligence lawsuit against the specific opioid's manufacturer. In order to win a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff (victim) needs to show these four elements:
- The plaintiff was owed a "duty of care" by the defendant;
- The defendant fell short of meeting this duty of care;
- Th plaintiff was injured by this "breach of duty of care"; and
- This injury resulted in damages.1
So in a negligence lawsuit against an opioid manufacturer, the plaintiff could claim that the manufacturer neglected to disclose the drug's addiction risks. Note that plaintiffs may also be able to sue drug manufacturers for "public nuisance" as well as RICO violations.
1.1. Opioid injuries
The central risk of taking opioid medications is developing an addiction. As with an addiction, opioid addictions can adversely affect every aspect of the addict's life including his/her health, livelihood, and relationships.2
Plaintiffs bringing a negligence lawsuit in Nevada seek compensatory damages for the following:
- doctor's bills, including opioid rehabilitation programs,
- Pain and suffering arising from the opioid addiction,
- Lost wages from not being able to work due to an opioid addiction, and/or
- Loss of future earnings while the plaintiff is unable to work or unable to get a job due to the opioid addiction
In some cases, the plaintiff may also be able to fight for punitive damages.
One clear defendant in opioid cases is the manufacturer of the specific opioid that the plaintiff took. Some of the biggest drug manufacturers include Purdue Pharma (OxyContin), Endo Pharmaceuticals (Percocet, Percodan), AbbVie Inc. (Vicodin), and Validus Pharmaceuticals (Demerol).
Every case is fact-specific, but in general opioid cases involve the following evidence:
- Records of the plaintiff's medical history that show his/her addiction began after taking opioids
- Testimony given by witnesses with expertise on opiate addiction
- Opioid advertisements that do not disclose addiction as a risk
Note that the plaintiff's burden of proof in Nevada negligence cases is "preponderance of the evidence." This means that the plaintiff has the onus to prove that "it is more likely than not" that the defendant was responsible. For more information, see our article on proving negligence in Nevada.
Once a patient becomes addicted, he/she has two (2) years to bring a negligence lawsuit in Nevada.3
Opioid medications are prescribed as painkillers, often after a surgery or accident. Examples include oxycodone, methadone, morphine, Buprenorphine, and hydrocodone.4
Call a Nevada personal injury attorney...
Have you become addicted to opioid medication that your doctor prescribed? Phone us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to consult free of charge. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys may be able to recover a hefty financial settlement to pay for all of your expenses, even pain and suffering. There is zero risk because we do not get paid unless we win your case.
- See, e.g. Scialabba v. Brandise Const. Co., 112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928 (1996).
- See, e.g. Inside a Killer Drug Epidemic: A Look at America's Opioid Crisis, New York Times (January 6, 2017).
- NRS 11.190.
- WebMD article: Opioid (Narcotic) Pain Medications.
- FDA requests removal of Opana ER for risks related to abuse (June 8, 2017).