Published On: Mon, Jul 27th, 2020

Drug Side Effects: When and How You Can File a Lawsuit

Pharmaceutical drug development companies and manufacturers are accountable for every product they release in the market. They are expected to design safe and effective drugs for intended uses. However, there are still unsafe medications that reach the general public. 

Nearly all prescribed or over-the-counter drugs of every pharmacy have side effects that can be passably harmless or potentially life-threatening. As a consumer, it can be terrifying to discover later that the medication you’ve been using is unknowingly doing you more harm than good. 

You have the right to seek justice if these medications harm you. However, when and how can you file a lawsuit due to a drug’s side effects? We’ve highlighted some essential points for you to consider so you’ll know what to do. 

What Are Side Effects?

Every medication has potential side effects. Otherwise known as adverse events, side effects are unwanted or unexpected events or reactions to a drug. But you can still take a drug and adjust to the expected side effects. It’s up to you and your medical providers to determine when the benefits of using any specific drug are worth the risk. 

Every patient and physician would hope the drug will be effective with minimal side effects. But there is no way to completely predict what will happen when someone takes a new prescription. Though there are several ways to reduce your risk of experiencing a side effect, serious side effects can still occur by surprise. Even a medication that has been tested effective and safe for a majority can end up harming you. 

When you are injured, or your condition worsens due to a drug’s side effect, you can take legal action. But just because you experience side effects does not mean you are qualified to file a lawsuit right away.  There are factors that you need to consider to make a lawsuit acceptable. One is the degree of your medication’s side effects. 

Serious Side Effects That Can Lead To Lawsuits

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the approval process of all prescription drugs. Generally, approved drugs provide benefits that outweigh the accompanying side effects and risks. 

However, some drug companies are not always honest about the side effects of their drugs. They try to cover up the adverse side effects for financial reasons. Thus, even if a drug is FDA-approved, the pharmaceutical manufacturer can still be liable if serious complications arise for people who are using it.

Serious drug side effects may give you the legal right to financial compensation. Here are some of the possible drug side effects that you can sue for.

Physical Ailments

Suffering from severe physical pain, such as ulcers, muscle spasms, arthritis, joint or abdominal pain, can interfere with daily life. You can file a lawsuit if this pain is a direct effect of the medication. 

Liver Damage

Because there are insufficient warnings, many people underestimate the harmful effect of a drug on the liver. It often goes unnoticed due to its subtle symptoms. 

Heart Complications

It is not rare for medications to be recalled after release to the market once discovered it could cause an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. The risk may include heart attack, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and other heart issues. 


Medications with an associated risk of blood clots and artery damage can expose users to the dangers of stroke. Because the side effect is common, many drug companies fail to inform doctors and patients of such risk. 

Suicidal Ideation

Some medications that are prescribed to prevent suicide and depression have been found to have the opposite effect. Studies show that many antidepressants can cause the worsening of suicidal thoughts in vulnerable patients. 


If someone dies due to a prescribed drug’s adverse effects, the deceased’s family may be able to take legal action and claim financial compensation.

When Can You File A Lawsuit Over Drug Side Effects?

Experiencing such severe side effects from a medication may not be adequate to file a lawsuit. There are other factors that one must take into consideration. 

The first one is informed consent. Were you warned about the possible side effects of a particular medication? If you were properly notified about the possibility of undesirable effects, you might not be entitled to file a suit. However, if you experienced a serious side effect you were not warned about, you are more likely to have a strong base for a legal claim. 

Moreover, drug lawsuits fall under an area of the law known as product liability. It refers to the legal liability a manufacturer or seller faces if they produce or sell a faulty product. A lawsuit may be appropriate if any one of these caused your injury: 

Defective Manufacturing

The drug was correctly designed, yet it may have been contaminated or contained errors in labeling.

Dangerous Side Effects

The drug has been on the market for a long time before its side effect was discovered. Sometimes, the manufacturer knows the risk of such side effects but never informs the doctors or patients. 

Improper marketing

The warnings provided on a particular drug are insufficient, or the product may be marketed for other use aside from what the FDA has approved. 

What Should You Do If Harmed By Drug Side Effects?

If you were seriously harmed by a prescription due to its side effects you were not informed about, you could file a lawsuit. You can sue the developer, manufacturer, and distributor of the drug that caused your injury. To properly do this and prove your case, you would need an experienced drug injury lawyer.

It is essential to note that every state has a timeline that defines how long you have to file a drug injury lawsuit. For instance, in some states, you must file a personal injury claim within one or two years from the date the side effect is detected. Thus, you should not delay finding a drug injury lawyer that will help you in your case. 

Do You Need To Pay Attention To Drug Recalls? 

Recalls happen when a safety issue compels a manufacturer to pull a drug from the market. Upon the request by the FDA, companies often voluntarily recall the drug. But in rare cases, the FDA orders a recall, like the case of Zantac. 

If you or someone you know are taking prescription drugs regularly, it is essential to pay attention to recalls for both health and legal reasons. If the drug you are using is recalled, you need to immediately consult your doctor to learn its impact on your health. They can also give you an alternative medication for your health condition. Apart from that, the effective date of a recall starts the period for a legal claim. 

For instance, if you have been taking a medication like Zantac, which has been recently recalled, and you have a side effect that has been causally linked to Zantac, you can contact some Zantac lawyers right away to represent your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. 


Experiencing serious side effects of a particular prescription is an urgent matter. You would need to take necessary actions for both health and legal reasons. If the medication is causing you more risks than benefits, you need to talk with the doctor as soon as possible. It is also vital to take legal action for whoever is accountable for such incidents.

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