Every year, more than 1.1 million people in the United States have hip or knee replacement surgery. Device makers market these products as solutions to pain and limited mobility. However, in recent years some of these devices have failed or been linked to serious injuries. In some instances, consumers suffer injuries that increase their pain and restrict their mobility more than they experienced before the implant. Some also experience emotional anguish over long-term health and financial burdens resulting from defective devices.
Knee implant manufacturers are legally responsible for marketing their products properly and adequately warning consumers and health care professionals about their risks. Ideally, device makers will properly design and test their products before they reach consumers. They are also responsible for monitoring their products for problems after they’ve received approval. But critics argue that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process doesn’t do enough to keep unsafe devices off the market.
Fortunately, patients who are injured by knee device manufacturers’ negligence can turn to the courts for help. Consumers have started holding device makers responsible for defective knee replacement devices, including Zimmer’s NexGen and Natural Knee System implants, Stryker’s Scorpio implants and Smith & Nephew’s OXINIUM devices.
Complications with Knee Replacements
Joint replacement devices must support body weight while allowing mobility. Knee replacement devices use three components to accomplish this: femoral, tibial and patella components. Proper device design is crucial to the safety and effectiveness of these devices. If the devices are improperly designed or manufactured, consumers may experience problems.
Older devices use a cement-like adhesive to hold device components in place. However, they can carry a risk of the cement breaking off the bone. Some recent devices, like NexGen implants, can be used with or without cement. The uncemented technique allows the bone to fuse into the implant.
Unfortunately, some consumers with uncemented devices have experienced loosening of the joint and other complications. A prominent surgeon formerly employed by Zimmer has also concluded that a NexGen model was not stable and could fail prematurely. The company has denied problems with its product’s design.
But other researchers have also questioned the durability of knee devices. Device makers are quick to promote their products as being more durable. Artificial joints are generally expected to last at least 15 years. But in 2011, a group of Austrian researchers concluded that new artificial knee and hip devices are not more durable than older models, with 30 percent being less durable. Some products, like Depuy’s now-recalled Sigma knee implants, have higher than normal revision rates.
|Defective knee replacements may place patients at risk for a range of injuries, including:|
|Inflammation and swelling|
|Bone, joint, muscle or neurological damage|
Revision surgery and long-term medical treatment may be necessary to address injuries.
Filing a Legal Claim
Many lawsuits alleging injuries from defective knee replacements are being filed in federal and state courts across the country. More than 600 federal lawsuits have been filed against Zimmer over its NexGen implants.
Product liability lawsuits, such as the knee replacement cases, generally allege that device makers failed to properly design, manufacture and market their devices. In other words, the makers neglected or ignored their duties to make sure the products were safe and would do what they claimed to do.
Consumers who have been injured by defective knee replacement devices may be eligible for compensation for their suffering, and medical and other expenses. Their lawsuits also bring attention to risks associated with some devices. This is particularly important because device makers may be slow to recall problematic devices, if at all.
If you have suffered injury or device failure after receiving a knee replacement, always seek medical care.
You should also consider contacting a defective device attorney for more information on your legal options, including whether you’re eligible for the following compensation:
- Medical bills – including doctor visits, pain and other medications, revision surgery
- Other compensatory damages –lost income from inability to work
- Pain and suffering – physical, mental and emotional suffering
- Punitive damages – awards to discourage similar negligence from other device makers
Tips for Filing a Knee Replacement Lawsuit
If you are considering filing a claim for knee replacement implant injuries, here are a few things to consider:
- The law limits the amount of time you have to file a claim. Each state has different statutes of limitation, so it’s important to talk to an attorney about when and where you were injured.
- You may receive more compensation from a lawsuit than a recall. If you were injured by a device that is later recalled, you may limit your ability to file a lawsuit if you participate in the recall. It’s best to talk to a qualified attorney, not a device manufacturer’s representative or a doctor, about how you can protect your legal claims during a recall.
- It’s a good idea to consult a qualified device attorney. Knee replacement injuries have already resulted in hundreds of lawsuits. Qualified device attorneys are familiar with device manufacturers’ legal strategies and issues that are common in these types of cases. They can offer information on where to file your claim, whether it’s in your interest to join any potential class action, and obtaining a possible legal settlement. Every case is different, and a qualified device attorney can help explain your legal options.
- Free consultations are available. Most device attorneys offer free consultations to help you determine if you have a legal claim. But be sure to ask about fees before hiring any lawyer. Usually, these attorneys do not get paid unless you win your case or obtain a settlement.