Defective Hip Implants
& Product Liability Lawsuits

Introduction

When selecting a lawyer to represent them, people that have been injured by defective hip implants sometimes do so from a position of relative weakness. The decision as to which lawyer and which firm to choose can significantly influence the potential outcome of a legal action, but quite often people make that decision in the absence of full information.

If it has been established, in principle, that injury has been caused by defective hip implants, and a legal action is to be initiated, then this will fall within the broad category of law known as Product Liability.

Product liability law is broad and deep, covering many hundreds of thousands of products and many types of defect.

It makes sense that most people would wish to have a true specialist leading their legal action, rather than a (product liability) generalist.

Purpose of this page

The purpose of this page is to provide context and a frame of reference for someone in the process of selecting a lawyer to represent them in a case involving defective hip implants. The objective is to help you assess the level of specialism and expertise that a candidate lawyer or legal firm possesses. Where does the firm sit on the continuum from (defective hip implant) specialist to product liability generalist?

The Spectrum of Product Liability Lawsuits

The diagram below is a representation of the spectrum of categories of product liability lawsuits:

A defective Hip implant is simply one specific example of a defective Medical product; in turn, a defective medical product is simply one category of General product liability.

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Click on the Diagram (above) to view a larger version; then Click on the 'Close' button or the dark area around the expanded image to return to the original page. Check out the Key to the diagram for definitions / explanations of the symbols & colours used (n.b. the Key opens in a new browser window).

General Product Liability (Level 3)

At the base of the pyramid is the widest spread of product liability categories, including for example injury caused by: defective power tools; defective furniture; defective automobile components. At this general level (tier 3), one category will be defective medical products (shown in Blue font). But remember, this is only one category of product liability among many hundreds.

The key question I would ask myself if I believed I had been injured by a hip implant product would be whether I would want the lawyer or legal firm representing me to be operating at level (3) of the diagram.

So, as I am discussing my case with lawyer X in our first meeting, I'm thinking… 'OK, he may have great experience in prosecuting product liability cases where people have been injured by defective stepladders or firearms, but how much does this guy know about defective hip implants in particular? Is he a true specialist in personal injury caused by defective hip devices?'

Defective Medical Products (Level 2)

Moving up a level of specialization, a lawyer or legal firm may position itself as specialist in cases involving defective medical products.

Again, even this category of product liability is very broad, comprised of for example injury caused by: defective heart valves; defective contraceptive devices; defective drug delivery systems. Also included in this category will be defective artificial joints including defective knee implants and defective hip implants.

Defective Hip Implants (Level 1)

OK, so you get the picture - at the top of the pyramid we have lawyers and legal firms that have a real depth of experience in prosecuting personal injury cases where the root cause of the injury is suspected to be a defective hip implant product.

These lawyers will have researched, prosecuted and most likely triumphed in a significant number of cases involving defective hip implants. They will be intimately familiar with the:

  • different types of hip replacement surgery
  • range of hip implant products available in the market; those that have been recalled, and those that are experiencing higher than expected failure or revision rates
  • major manufacturers and distributors of hip implant products
  • many complex considerations, specific to defective hip implants, that need to be researched, assessed, and ultimately integrated into a coherent strategy for persecuting the legal case on behalf of the injured party, including expert witnesses with niche specialist experience
  • practical considerations associated with personal injury cases where there are multiple, quite often thousands of plaintiffs (injured parties): mass torts and class actions

Furthermore, these lawyers are likely to be senior in legal firms that have extensive resources and specialist capability to research, archive and cross reference information relating to defective hip devices and the related legal actions.

These legal firms are likely to be acting on behalf of multiple clients who have sustained injuries from defective hip implants. Therefore, to some extent each client could potentially benefit from economies of scale within the legal firm. For example, the firm will have built a fact base and corporate understanding of: the hip implant industry; historic hip replacement recall cases, rulings and outcomes; hip implant-related legislation and standards. If this knowledge is pre-existing within the firm then it can be brought to bear very quickly and cost effectively for additional / new clients.

So, in an ideal world, anyone that has sustained an injury from a defective hip implant product would be represented by a lawyer as described immediately above (Level 1). In addition, ideally the legal firm that the lawyer is part of should have significant experience and proven capability at Level 2.

A Perspective on Legal Specialisations

Most legal firms market their services based on a selection of high level lines of business, for example: matrimonial; commercial; medical malpractice; product liability; personal injury and so on.

In most countries, a combination of regulations and professional guidelines dictate whether firms or individual lawyers can promote and market themselves as specialists in certain areas of the law.

In order to badge themselves as specialists in any area of the law, firms typically need to demonstrate they have certain capabilties, meet a range of criteria and have a demonstrable track record of success with cases in the appropriate area of law. If you need more information on these standards and criteria then contact the Law Society or legal regulator for the country or state where you are based.

Summary

To commence a legal action is a big step and anyone doing so will ideally be represented by a lawyer who is highly experienced in cases centering on personal injury caused by defective hip devices.

Use the information on this page, and also the related information on medical malpractice lawsuits, to provide some context and a partial framework for discussions with candidate lawyers.




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