Can I Sue If I Got a Defective IVC Filter After a Car Accident?
Car accidents can leave you more than a little shaken up. Even impacts at relatively low speeds can cause broken bones, neck pain, and other long-term health problems. You might be surprised to learn that blood clots can also occur following vehicle collisions. Sometimes blood clots go undetected for some time after these types of traumatic injuries.
Now, one way to prevent and treat issues that arise from blood clots is with an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. These are medical devices implanted into a large vein near your heart. The filter is designed to catch blood clots. However, keep in mind that while medical devices can save lives, there is also the possibility of the device being defective or improperly installed. This can lead to further injury or even death.
About Inferior Vena Cava Filters
IVC filters are designed to capture blood clots and keep them from reaching the lungs. Blood clots are problematic because they can lead to a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of a pulmonary artery in your lungs. This can cause shortness of breath and can be fatal in serious cases.
To prevent this, the IVC filter is implanted into the inferior vena cava. This is the vein that brings oxygen from the lower body back to the heart. The filter is a small wiry device, and as blood flows past the filter any blood clots are caught before they lead to problems.
Complications with IVC Filters
However, issues can occur with IVC filters. These problems can begin right away or develop over time. For instance, a filter can fall apart or move out of place. This movement could shift the filter to another part of the vein or puncture an internal organ like the heart or lungs.
A filter must be replaced if it moves from its location. But, this process may be difficult depending on where the filter lands. If it’s stuck in a hard to reach place, this may make it impossible to remove the filter. An out of place filter could also penetrate the wall of the IVC.
As is the case with most surgical implants, infection and internal bleeding are possible. Serious complications from IVC filter problems include:
- Hemorrhage (severe internal bleeding)
- Stroke, or
For this reason, it is important to see a doctor right away if you have any signs of complications. These symptoms would include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness, neck pain, and confusion.
Lawsuit Based on IVC Complications
If your IVC is defective, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. This could be based on a problem with the filter design or due to an issue during the manufacturing process. An example would be if the filter was made from low-quality materials or mislabeled. Or, the company could have failed to warn you about issues that could arise with the product.
By contrast, your complications may instead be due to the filter being implanted incorrectly. If this is the case, you might have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor that operated on you. If successful, you could be awarded money damages for your medical bills and amounts for pain and suffering.
You may also be entitled to lost wages, lost earning capacity, and in some cases, punitive damages. Punitive damages are amounts above and beyond your actual damages and are meant to punish the person at fault.
Bringing a Claim Against the Driver
Now, another driver could be at fault for your injuries. This would be the case if your blood clot was the result of someone’s negligent driving that caused a car accident. If that happens, you should not hesitate to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer in your area. But, keep in mind that the matter is more complex if you had a pre-existing condition. Generally, you are not allowed to sue a driver for treatments related to medical problems you were suffering before the accident.
Note that injuries can manifest weeks or even months after the initial trauma. For that reason, it is important to be cautious about settling a lawsuit too soon after a car accident. Once a case has been settled, you cannot ask for more money.
Further, some cases like these involve more than one person or business. For example, you may be interested in suing the driver, the medical professional, and/or the medical device manufacturer. These cases can be complex, so it can be helpful to reach out to a qualified attorney to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries.