What types of damages are available in a case involving an injury caused by Paxil?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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There are two types of cases that can arise as a result of using Paxil – either a personal injury case, brought by someone who was injured by the drug (for example, through a birth defect, failed suicide attempt, or an inability to stop using the drug), or a wrongful death suit, brought by the family of someone who either committed suicide or was the victim of a homicide that is linked to the use of Paxil. The damages available in these types of cases are similar to the types of damages available in any personal injury or wrongful death case.

The concept behind damages in a lawsuit, whether decided by a jury or by settlement, is to try to put the victim in the same position he or she would have been without the injury or death. Therefore, damages that reimburse the victim or his or her family for medical expenses, burial expenses, loss of work, or any other out-of-pocket type expenses are awarded. As a practical matter, this means collecting and documenting your lost income, your medical expenses (i.e., ER care, hospital, doctor, laboratory, diagnostic tests, therapy, etc.), travel expenses, and burial expenses.

There are other types of damages available as well, although they are not as easy to put an actual number on because of their nature. Damages for things such as pain and suffering, loss of economic opportunity, loss of benefits, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship (in a suit brought by a spouse) are some of the damages that your attorney will include in any settlement discussions or argument to the jury. While it is difficult to put an objective measurement, such as a dollar figure, on a subjective complaint, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life, the courts, attorneys, and insurance adjusters all have a great deal of experience in working with these concepts. (See also our section on pain and suffering.) Depending on where your case is brought, there will probably be other similar cases that your attorney and the other side will rely on as a starting point for these damages.

A third type of damages that may be available is punitive damages, which would be used in these cases to punish GlaxoSmithKline for continuing to promote Paxil for use by children and adolescents, for not acknowledging the severe withdrawal symptoms, and for not sufficiently warning about the increased suicidal and homicidal tendencies caused by the drug. The question here will be whether GlaxoSmithKline acted so negligently that it should be punished for improper warnings and promotions. However, punitive damages are not allowed in every state and it can be very difficult to prove that your case deserves punitive damages. Talk with your attorney to see if requesting punitive damages might be appropriate in your case.

You may read about settlements and jury verdicts in other cases involving Paxil. While these can be informative, remember that different people receive different settlement offers and jury verdicts based on many things: where the case is brought, what the particular facts of a case are, who the insurance adjusters are, your character and credibility; extent of the injury, objective evidence, and, to some extent, who the attorneys are. Therefore, you should not necessarily think that your case will receive the same type of settlement award as another case. Depending on your case, your settlement offer may be higher or lower. You will have to work with your attorney to decide whether a particular offer is suitable or not.

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