Bone cement is used in numerous surgeries such as elbow, knee, and joint-replacement surgery. When it functions appropriately, bone cement served as glue, bonding medical devices and bones in medical procedures. Nevertheless, its defects have been reported to cause painful injuries and catastrophic complications like infection and debonding. If you have sustained life-threatening injuries and complications due to bone cement, speak with the Consumer Alert Now. For many years, we have represented victims of faulty products and dangerous medical devices throughout the United States file mass tort cases. Our legal team can explain the available legal options and your rights and start building a suit tailored to secure the compensation you deserve.
An Overview of Bone Cement
It was used to close gaps in the human skull in the 1940s. Today, it is used in surgeries to assist patients in regaining their range of motion.
It is mainly made of Poly (methyl methacrylate). Its compatibility with tissues facilitates its usage in different medical procedures like eye cataract surgeries and joint replacement.
When it comes to joint replacement, it anchors an artificial joint. It's used in replacement surgeries like:
It joins your bones and prosthetic joint together, at the same time remaining flexible to permit movement and absorb forces acting on your body. Additionally, it fills gaps in your bones and remodels lost bones.
High Viscosity vs. Low Viscosity
Because the cement is prepared during surgery, the mixture can be high-viscosity or low-viscosity depending primarily on your doctor's decision. In other words, the bone cement's thickness can vary.
High viscosity bone cement is commonly used in medical procedures. It is because it takes less time to mix and could hold longer. Unluckily, the high viscosity cement could result in a weaker bone, increasing the possibility of:
- Cement loosening
- Chronic pain
It could need additional surgery to fix the issue, more pain, incurring medical expenses, and patient downtime.
Antibiotics in Cement
An antibiotic is released to the joint during surgery in the form of a soluble powder. The purpose is to avoid infections or treat pre-existing infections. Common antibiotics used include:
A lot of antibiotics mixed in the cement can alter the mechanical impact of the medical product. A low dosage of antibiotics should be used to prevent post-operative infections. Other side effects of cement with antibiotics include:
- Allergic reactions
- Systemic toxicity
- Cost implications
- Antibiotic resistance
Why Would You Need Joint Replacement?
Also known as replacement arthroplasty, joint replacement surgery is usually an ultimate medical procedure. It should be recommended only when noninvasive ways do not alleviate severe joint injury and pain. The treatment is essential following physical damages to your joint or due to diseases like arthritis. It is commonly required for knees and hips.
Possible Complications of Bone Cement
Both medical experts and patients have reported the following complications related to bone cement:
Bone Cement Leakage
When cement is inserted into your bone, it could leak from the needle to neighboring soft tissues, spinal nerves, and veins. It can sometimes cause nerve damage.
In a joint replacement procedure, the cement could apply adequate pressure to your bone that fat, cement, and bone marrow could enter your bloodstream and clog your arteries.
The Journal of Arthroplasty research discovered that the total number of knee replacements with high-viscosity cement rose between 2012 and 2017. One of the causes of a joint replacement is aseptic loosening (failure of a bond of your artificial joint or bone to the cement). It's known as aseptic since the loss is not due to microorganisms. As previously mentioned, the failure is more common in high-viscosity cement.
Cement loosening could cause:
- Challenges in walking
- Chronic pain
- Persistent pain
- Swelling of your joint
- Decreased range of motion
Factors like your body mass, bone density, and prosthetic joint cause cement loosening. The aseptic loosening could also happen within the cement.
Cement loosening needs revision, a procedure to replace your prosthetic joint, resulting in further bone loss.
Bone Cement Implantation Syndrome
Sometimes patients who undergo surgical procedures involving cement suffer from bone cement implantation syndrome. Although BCIS is commonly related to hip replacement, it can occur after any procedure.
The cause of BCIS is still unclear. However, it is believed that when cement is applied between the artificial joint and the bone, it expands and exerts pressure on your bone. The pressure could result in bone marrow, cement, or fat to leak into the bloodstream. The material could clog your arteries and make you suffer from cardiac arrest or pulmonary embolism.
Common symptoms include:
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Oxygen deficiency (hypoxia)
- Cardiac arrest
- Cardiac arrhythmia
Persons with any of the following health conditions are more vulnerable to suffer from BCIS:
- Impaired lung and heart function
- Multiple hip fractures
- Old age
- Bone metastases
- Pulmonary hypertension
Brands Linked to Bone Cement Cand Failure
Several brands manufacture bone cement, and some have unfortunately been associated with bone cement complications. They include:
- DePuy CMW 1 Bone Cement
- Stryker/Howmedia Simplex HV Bone Cement
- DePuy SmartSet HV Bone Cement
- Biomet/DJO Surgical Cobalt HV Bone Cement
How to Recover Compensation for Bone Cement: Mass Tort
When a malfunctioning medical device injures many people, they can join hands and form a mass tort action to seek compensation. Through contact and communication with experienced attorneys, the victims can join the action and upsurge the damages founded on the precise issue.
When a group of injured victims wants to press charges against one tortfeasor in one lawsuit, the alleged victims' attorney should seek consent from a court of law before bringing a tort claim. The judge will put the following into consideration when deciding whether to approve:
- How many plaintiffs involved
- Whether injuries sustained are similar
- The location of the victims (Are they far from or near to each other?)
- Whether claims made are linked to one cause
Should the court determine that the case is a valid tort action, a judge is assigned to the claim. The judge will order notice of the claim to be published in various newspapers. It allows other victims of bone cement to join the mass tort if they want to.
Please note, mass tort lawsuits differ from class actions. In the former, every victim has a separate claim originating from various damages. Every plaintiff receives their trial. On the contrarily, when it comes to class actions, there is one trial, and plaintiffs aren't considered individually. Consequently, compensation for every victim is much higher in a tort lawsuit. Additionally, a case's investigations and preparation could be moved to another, hence enhancing the speed of the proceedings.
How to Join a Mass Tort
When you want to be part of a tort case, you can contact an attorney unconnected or speak with attorneys involved in the case. You should wait until the attorney interviews you. The facts of your injuries stemming from bone cement should be relevant to the tort. If the circumstances or injuries don't have a relation or connection, you might require to press charges against the defendant separately.
Generally, mass torts use witness testimony, experts, and evidence from all incidents with all alleged victims. Be sure you identify the responsible party; the defendant compensates you, and the case has an increased success rate. The legal experts should examine the matter with all victims and witnesses before the case proceeds to court.
Connection to the Tort
Following an interview with a lawyer, you should explain how you are connected to the claim. The proof is essential; a medical record of your injury and damage caused could offer a basis for relating to the mass tort or refuting the association. Prior to becoming a victim or witness, you should have an interrelated case. That means if the bone cement causes bone cement implantation syndrome to one patient, a new addition should have a similar injury. However, if the medical device causes another health condition, the deviation disqualifies the association with the mass tort.
How Long Does a Mass Tort Last?
A mass tort is a powerful tool for plaintiffs who can pool resources when fighting one defendant. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit that speeds through the settlement process in weeks or even months, a tort is more complicated. It is because of the large number of plaintiffs. A mass tort takes a significant amount of time to collect and investigate evidence to establish every victim's injuries. Your tort requires substantial evidence like company documentation and medical records.
Other factors that could affect your mass tort timeline include:
- Locating and deposing expert witnesses: The attorneys could look for expert witnesses such as marketers, economists, bone cement company developers/researchers, scientists, and doctors.
- The need to travel when locating and deposing witnesses or conducting case investigations
- The number of claimants
- The degree of your injuries
- Does the defendant cooperate?
- The total amount of compensation being sought
Please note, the above factors only address the initial stages of building the tort.
Moreover, a mass tort case has a unique process that takes money and time. There are various case status and management conferences, sharing the documents between the involved parties, motions, and selecting the bellwether trial cases.
There isn't a guideline or rule that determines when your mass tort should close. While some claim could reach a settlement within years, others could take longer. Luckily, if you require financial help while awaiting your settlement money, you can get legal funding.
Lawsuit funding is a non-recourse cash advance that assists you in weathering the storm as your tort is being litigated. It bridges between your current bills and the future settlement or verdict. Additionally, it aids in preventing bankruptcy and the consequences of being unable to return to work.
What are the Different Stages of a Mass Tort?
Just like a personal injury claim, there are several stages of a tort claim. The tort can settle at any phase. Also, either party could lose the case anytime. It is why experienced mass tort attorneys will not file a claim until they are sure the victims have a valid lawsuit.
Here is an overview of different phases of a mass tort:
Your Lawyer Will Review Your Records
Your lawyer will determine whether you have a valid case by reviewing various records. Additionally, they will review your statements alongside your injuries.
The lawyer will analyze the years' worth of your medical records. It helps in:
- Determining whether you have a pre-existing health condition
- Confirming the time limit when you realized injuries or complications caused by the bone cement
The Lawyers Should Recognize Injury Consistencies
To be eligible for a tort, the lawyer should identify injury consistencies. In most cases, the plaintiff should have identical or similar damages. For instance, in a bone cement case, the plaintiffs should be suffering from complications such as cement leakage or bone cement implantation syndrome.
The lawyer should build a case against the defendant. Every victim will have his or her claim, but the claim's structure should be identical. It is because only a few cases will determine what happens to the remaining lawsuits. Therefore, if there are outlines that do not meet the bellwether case pattern, the claims will not receive compensation.
Filing the Federal Lawsuit
Torts are brought in federal court. Even if the claimants live in diverse regions of the United States, it is wise to file their claims together. It is known as consolidating mass tort lawsuits. Consolidating the cases makes it more convenient and faster for all bone cement victims.
Be sure to engage a lawyer who understands the mass tort case's structure and the filing process.
Bellwether Cases Trial
Before all cases are tried, the court will try a few cases (bellwether trials). Usually, the counsels handling the litigation will elect the most severe cases. It can include patients who:
- Are about to die
- Have suffered the most significant damages
Bellwether trials are tests run for juries and judges. It tests how the claims will be. If the judge finds the defense in a bellwether claim, the other cases will not continue to trial. Any experienced mass tort counsel must take the bellwether trials seriously.
The settlement is the final stage of a tort action. Although it can take time before a case settles, most cases settle. A trial can be expensive and time-consuming. Both mass tort attorneys and judges prefer to have the matter settled outside court.
Additionally, there is an opportunity to appeal.
How Damages Work in Mass Tort Cases
A mass tort is treated as many personal injury claims. Every plaintiff makes their compensation claim. While some claimants might be seeking compensation worth ten thousand dollars, others might demand three hundred thousand. The amount you persuade depends primarily on the injuries sustained.
In other words, compensation is kept separate. Assume there are one hundred plaintiffs, and the total compensation amount is fifteen million dollars. All defendants have different claim amounts, and the damage cannot be divided by the number of victims. Each victim has a right to their compensation.
Since tort cases involve significant compensation amounts, you require an experienced mass tort lawyer. With what is at stake, you do not want a person who has never handled a tort lawsuit before. Some of the evidence your mass tort counsel can use to establish the claim include:
- Medical records
- Expert witness statement
- Evidence of causation or photos of your injuries
- Evidence of the lost income
- Medical test results and reports
- Your physician's affidavits
Common damages awarded include:
- Medical expenses (both future and current)
- Physical therapy and extended care
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost wages
- The effect of your injuries on your relationship
- Transportation expenses associated with your injury
- Emotional and mental damages
- Disfigurement and disability
How Soon Following Settlement Can You Receive Damages?
The time it takes to receive compensation varies from case to case. When an agreement for all claimants is arrived at, there are several requirements which should be met. The requirements involve subrogation interest or government lien. The parties might need significant time to solve issues before compensating you.
If another entity paid your medical treatment linked to the bone cement's injury or complication, compensation will be made to the entity. It can take time. What is more, things could be slow if the at-fault party filed for bankruptcy when your mass tort was pending. In this case, the trustees could claim that the lawsuit is the bankruptcy's estate. Sometimes the compensation amount is held in a third-party trust account. As a result, some people receive the money within months while others take longer.
Understanding the Relationship Between Subrogation Claims and Compensation
If bone cement has caused injuries, and the plaintiff incurred medical expenses, the health insurance provider, Health Maintenance Organization, or Medicaid Medicare might have paid the medical cost. If the defendant compensates the victim, the victim should reimburse the agency for the medical costs they paid. Claims from your insurer are referred to as subrogation claims.
Procedures and laws governing the subrogation interest vary with states and insurance forms. Nevertheless, because Medicare is a federal program, victims have the responsibilities to partially pay back the compensation amount to the authority regardless of their state.
Is There a Damage Cap in a Tort Case?
Usually, when you take legal action against a pharmaceutical firm, you hope to receive the maximum compensation. There are two types of damages awarded in any mass tort claim, namely:
- Economic damages: These are costs incurred due to the injuries and could include loss of income, transportation expenses to hospital, and medical costs.
- Non-economic damages: These are damages that can't be quantified easily like loss of consortium, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
Some states limit the maximum compensation a plaintiff can receive. Typically, the cap applies to non-economic damages. It is a way to lower the service providers' liability and manage business costs. Moreover, the damage cap is designed to discourage persons from bringing invalid claims because they believe they could be awarded a lot of money. At the federal level, the damage cap is two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Elements of Proving Your Mass Tort Action
Like any civil claim, there are essential elements of a claim against a company that injured many people. The facts are necessary if you want to prevail in the lawsuit. They are:
- Duty of care: It should be established that the defendant owed you a duty of care. In this case, the bone cement manufacturer should offer you a product that does not hurt you.
- Breach of the duty of care: It should be established the bone cement manufacturer violated the duty of care.
- Causation means you should present evidence that the cement caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages.
Statute of Limitations in Your Bone Cement Mass Tort
The timeframe varies from one state to another. Typically, the deadlines are two or three years. If you want to join a tort case, you should comply with the statute of limitations rule.
From time to time, the statute of limitations can be tolled based on the discovery rule. It applies when what caused your injury or complication is not apparent immediately. Most mass tort cases involve complications or injuries, which take time to result in severe damage.
For instance, bone cement that causes BCIS might first manifest as low blood pressure, unconsciousness, hypoxia, or cardiac arrest. Therefore, it could not result in a severe health condition until significant time has passed, and you might not know of the disease until years following the medical procedure. In this case, the timeframe begins running on when you discover the health condition.
Find an Experienced Mass Tort Attorney Near Me
Mass tort's purpose is consolidating claims from many plaintiffs injured after using bone cement. It saves resources and time. The litigation could be complicated, and the case should be proven using medical records, your doctor's affidavits, and evidence or income. As a result, you should consult with one of the lawyers at Consumer Alert Now. We can help you ensure you've a valid claim to join a mass tort claim and that your claim is filed on time. To discuss the available legal option, contact us now at 800-511-0747.