What Damages Can Be Awarded in New York Opioid Malpractice Cases?

Medication Errors

Opioids have had a disastrous effect on thousands of families across the United States, and although federal and state government agencies have started taking action to address this crisis, their intervention has come too late for too many people. Due to overzealous prescribing practices and failure to disclose the risks associated with opioid medications, many patients in New York have suffered significant losses due to the consequences of opioid addiction and overdose.

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances through civil litigation. If you or a loved one were prescribed opioids by a medical professional, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice suit to recover compensation for various damages.

As with any civil claim, a person filing an opioid malpractice case in New York could seek a damage award for financial losses stemming from opioid usage. These could include medical bills for emergency treatment, expenses related to rehabilitative services, lost wages from missed time at work, and any other form of economic damage that can be tied directly to opioid addiction. Likewise, if an opioid overdose resulted in the premature death of a loved one, funeral and burial expenses may be factored into the lawsuit, in addition to the loss of monetary support.

However, most of the recovery plaintiffs recover through opioid malpractice cases comes in the form of non-economic and punitive damages, the first of which encompasses any and all losses that do not have an objective economic value. Someone who became addicted to opioids prescribed by their doctor could pursue non-economic damages for the impact their addiction had on their mental health, their relationships, their ability to pursue personal and occupational opportunities, and their ability to enjoy life. In the event of a fatal overdose, surviving family members could seek compensation for loss of companionship, loss of emotional support, and emotional pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are not meant to compensate plaintiffs for specific losses, but rather to punish defendants for grossly negligent or intentional behavior. In previous opioid-related lawsuits, punitive damages have made up a significant portion of total damages granted to a plaintiff. In 2016, an opioid malpractice suit in Missouri ended with the plaintiff receiving a damage award of $17.6 million, $15 million of which were punitive damages.

Potential Obstacles to Recovery

While significant damages can be and are awarded in opioid malpractice cases, certain limiting factors may negatively impact the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover. Fortunately, both compensatory and punitive damage awards in New York opioid malpractice cases are not limited by any sort of damage cap, so juries are free to grant plaintiffs whatever amount they believe the situation justifies.

However, New York state law does include a statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, setting a filing deadline of two and a half years from the negligent act that caused the victim’s damages. While there are exceptions to this rule under certain circumstances, it is generally best to take legal action sooner rather than later, especially given the damage opioid addiction can do if left unaddressed. To get started on your case, call a medical malpractice lawyer today and set up a consultation.