Can I get compensation for issues I have suffered related to an addiction to opiates that were prescribed to me?

I was given very high doses of a pain killer 3 years ago, which eventually led to job loss, marital problems and costs associated with treatment. I do not believe that the prescribed amount of medication was right. Also, after notification of this physician that I had an addiction problem, he continued to prescribe the medication to me for some time after.

Asked on February 25, 2013 under Malpractice Law, Oregon


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

This question has a technical and a practical component.  To sue for malpractice, your lawyer would have to find an expert witness willing to testify that the physician deviated from the "accepted standard of care" concerning the use of opiate painkillers.  While I am sure a lawyer could find an expert to criticize the overuse of opiates, there would be a veritable parade of experts to testify that your doctor's use was appropriate given your symptoms and complaints.  This makes your case difficult to win.

The practical side is that the public, which means juries, is very much prejudiced against "drug addicts."  They do not understand drug addiction and, no matter how good your attorney, they will not understand it during a trial.  The bottom line is a jury probably will not like you.  Juries who do not like the plaintiff usually give him or her nothing.

Your case may have some unusual facts.  You may be a nun or priest who took a vow of poverty and have been serving only the poor for your adult life, or some other completely unasailable lifestyle.  However, most plaintiffs are real people with real lives that are not perfect.  The defense takes full advantage of the "not perfect" parts.

Since malpractice attorneys do not charge for consultations, I suggest you call several in your area and see what they say.  You deserve an opinion based on your specific facts and the law and legal culture of your area.  However, if several lawyers tell you that you are destined to lose your malpractice case, do not be surprised.

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