According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Maryland is among the top five states with the highest opioid-related deaths. The NIDA reports Maryland has been above the national average in opioid-related deaths since 1999. There are thousands of grief-stricken families in Maryland that have suffered through the deaths of sons, daughters, husbands, and wives due to opiate addiction. As the public begins to learn that opioid drug makers had a profound knowledge of these medications’ tendency to cause addiction, the devastated families often find themselves in greater anguish knowing that someone could have prevented the agony and deaths of their loved ones.
If someone you loved has died as a result of an opioid overdose or while in withdraw from an opioid addiction in Baltimore, you should contact an attorney with a strong track record of success in wrongful death lawsuits. The aggressive team of attorneys at Bennett and Heyman will fight relentlessly for the rights your family member should have received. With their dedication – and over 70 years of collective experience – they will fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us at (410) 727-2168.
Filing Deadline for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland
According to Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904, there is a time limit of three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland. There are limited exceptions where the legal concept of “equitable tolling” is applied, which allows a lawsuit to be filed after the time limit to advance. For this limited exception to apply, it must be demonstrated that there was information hidden from those with a legal right to it. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney can evaluate whether there is a viable argument of equitable tolling on your behalf.
Overview of Wrongful Death Laws in Maryland
Under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-901(e), a wrongful death is one that would have allowed the deceased person to recover damages if they were still living. Maryland courts typically ask whether the opioid addition is the “substantial factor” in causing the harm that lead to the person’s death. Under this test, Maryland courts consider:
- Other factors which may have contributed to the harm, and the extent of their effect
- If the defendant’s conduct created a force which may have been in continuous operation up to the time of the harm or which created a situation that was harmless until acted upon by other forces; and
- The passage of time between the harm and the filing of the suit.
Warr v. JMGM Group, LLC, 433 Md. 170, 246 (Md. 2013)
Establishing the elements above requires legal skills and experience because every case is different. While the same symptoms usually characterize addiction, and while there is some consensus on how these drugs harm the system as it builds a tolerance, defendants will try to use a variety of tactics to avoid legal responsibility for the loss of your loved one. With our decades of experience, Bennett & Heyman attorneys will fight for your rights and prevent these underhanded tactics.
The Deceit of Pharmaceutical Companies
While it is not clear how long it takes for an average person to develop an addiction, there is data that indicates it takes only five days for some kinds of opioids such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) to cause a long-term addiction. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription opioids. Recent lawsuits have uncovered shocking details about hidden marketing strategies employed by drug companies to profit from the sales of opioids to individuals vulnerable to addiction. The discovery of these horrifying practices confirms that addiction doesn’t just happen due to the weaknesses of individuals; it is a disease these companies have been exploiting. The people who profited from your family’s pain should be held accountable.
Families can often look back at the times before their loved one developed an addiction and recognize the impact of opioids in his or her life. As they look back, they can point to the time their loved one received a prescription for pain medication after an accident, a surgical procedure, or a medical treatment. Some of the most common opioids include:
- Codeine (Tylenol 3)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Xodol, Hycodan, Hycet)
- Morphine (MS Contin, Kadian, RMS, Oramorph, MSIR, Roxanol)
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet, Endone, Targin, Oxynorm, Proladone)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Darvon, Demerol)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
As more information regarding the unconscionable tactics of drug manufacturers is uncovered, media outlets and governmental agencies have published reports showing that pharmaceutical companies targeted people at risk, such as:
- People with a history of using opioids
- Those exposed to environmental factors such as poverty and unemployment
NPR recently reported that some pharmaceutical companies even used unscientific information to encourage doctors to prescribe medications they knew were patently addictive. With this information, it may be evident that steps were taken to hide the truth about the opioid that caused the death of your child, parent, or spouse.
Call a Trustworthy Baltimore Attorney for Wrongful Death Cases
The revelations of the horrifying marketing practices of drug companies focused on pushing opioids make clear that someone should be held accountable for deaths due to opioid addiction. With the right legal representation, you can file a successful wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who perished due to drug dependence. Keep in mind that there are strict time limitations that make expedience important when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Rest easy knowing that you will not be responsible for legal fees unless you obtain a monetary award or settlement. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (410) 727-2168.