If you're suffering from complications from an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter, you might be thinking about suing the manufacturer of the filter, the medical professionals who surgically implanted the filter, or both.
Before you decide whether to file an IVC filter lawsuit, you probably want to know how long the process will take. It's hard to predict specifics, but IVC filter cases— like other kinds of personal injury lawsuits— move through distinct stages. And some factors that can influence the timeline of your case are in your control.
In this article, we'll look at the timeline possibilities for IVC filter lawsuits, and touch on some other key issues to keep in mind if you're thinking about pursuing this kind of case.
An IVC filter lawsuit usually goes through the following stages:
IVC filter lawsuits are complicated, whether you're arguing that the IVC filter was defective (product liability), or that the medical professional who treated you made an unreasonable mistake (medical malpractice).
First, you'll have to file your lawsuit within the strictly-enforced time limits set in your state (set by a law called a "statute of limitations").
Next, the complexity of your case will affect the timeline. IVC filter lawsuits usually involve piles of medical records and multiple expert witnesses on both sides, which means some stages, like discovery and pretrial motions, will undoubtedly take longer than they might in a less complicated lawsuit (like a slip and fall or car accident case).
The court's calendar might also affect the timeline of your case. If the calendar is clogged because of COVID-19 delays, or for some other reason, hearing and trial dates can be postponed for weeks or months.
Finally, the timeline of your IVC filter lawsuit might depend on whether your lawsuit has been grouped into a multi-district litigation (MDL) action. Thousands of IVC filter lawsuits, most involving Bard or Cook Medical as one of the defendants, have been consolidated in one of two MDLs in Arizona or Indiana.
Most IVC filter lawsuits can settle at any time. For example, soon after filing the complaint, your attorney can send a demand letter to the other side, detailing your injuries and asking for a certain dollar amount as compensation. This letter could spur serious settlement talks, and if a settlement agreement is reached before trial, you can choose to dismiss the lawsuit in exchange for settlement money.
Most cases do settle, especially as lawsuits move closer to trial (or after bellwether trials in an MDL proceeding) and parties get a better sense of the evidence and the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. And even if the two sides don't come together on their own to try to resolve the case out of court, most judges require plaintiffs and defendants to attend at least one mandatory settlement conference before trial begins. (Learn more about how personal injury settlements work.)
In the language of the law, "damages" refers to the nature and extent of an injured person's losses. In the context of an IVC filter lawsuit, the more significant the plaintiff's damages, the longer the case is likely to take. When there's more at stake (for both sides), there's more to argue over, and less common ground.
Damages are paid by the defendant in the lawsuit. (in IVC filter cases. Whether your IVC filter case settles out of court or you receive a judgment in your favor after a trial, the money you receive is considered damages.
To answer this question, let's look at some common categories of damages in an IVC filter lawsuit.
This includes any medical treatment you've received as a result of health problems linked to a failing IVC filter (including additional surgical attempts to repair, replace, or remove the problematic device), and any care you'll need in the future.
If health complications resulting from a failing IVC filter have forced you to take time off from your job, or have otherwise affected your ability to earn a living, that kind of economic harm will also factor into your damages. In "legalese," an award based on future income is characterized as compensation for the injured person's "loss of earning capacity" or "diminished earning capacity."
This category of damages plays a big part in determining how much you can expect to receive in an injury case, and is often broken down into two types:
Learn more about pain and suffering in a personal injury case.
Personal injury lawsuits typically require plaintiffs to prove that the defendant's wrongdoing caused actual injuries, which is why having a medical diagnosis is a key step in most mass tort cases. But some non-injured plaintiffs implanted with IVC filters are suing manufacturers for the anticipated long-term costs of monitoring the devices.
A minority of states allow non-injured plaintiffs to pursue claims for "medical monitoring" when they've been exposed to hazards (like asbestos). To bring this kind of claim, non-injured plaintiffs with IVC filters would likely have to prove:
For more information on medical monitoring claims (including whether they're an option in your state), talk to an attorney.
If you've been injured by an IVC filter, you should talk to an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will explain the relevant laws and court procedures, including MDLs, and the full range of your strategic options. An attorney can present the pros and cons of settlement, and navigate your case toward the best possible outcome.
Chances are a lawyer will handle your IVC filter lawsuit on a "contingency fee" basis. This means if you reach an out-of-court settlement, or you win your lawsuit at trial, your lawyer will be paid a percentage of what you receive—usually around one-third of the total.
If you don't receive any money from the other side, your lawyer doesn't get paid. It's important to read the fine print of any attorney-client contract before you sign it, and understand whether you'll be on the hook for expenses or "costs" associated with your injury case if you don't end up with a trial win or settlement.