Pain Patchs (also known as fentanyl, fentanil, Sublimaze, Actiq, Durogesic, Duragesic, Fentora, Matrifen, Haldid, Onsolis, Instanyl, Abstral and) Lazanda) are being used more frequently to treat patients suffering from chronic pain. This drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and is extremely dangerous. Of course, the manufactures of pain patches keep track of such deaths but do not release that data for public consumption. Statistical studies of accidental Fentanyl deaths by state agencies are also not available for public consumption. Coroners in the state do not keep any statistical/computerized record of these deaths and do not release their findings that might otherwise help with tracking trends or problems. Most, but not all, Coroners in the state use the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to run lab tests on Fentanyl deaths which should make it possible to monitor deaths over any geographical area. However, if served with an Freedom of Information Act Request, SLED will not produce a computer generated report of this data and will refer the requestor to the particular Coroners office to obtain a copy of such reports. SLED has the ability to run computer queries to evaluate these deaths but will not do so voluntarily in response to an FOIA requests. This is clearly a violation of the FOIA. In addition, many Coroners will not produce copies or even redacted copies of their files or lab results of a pain patch death in response to Freedom of Information Requests. Instead, Coroners will only allow a requestor to inspect individual files in the Coroner’s office citing patient/family privacy. Allowing only inspection of a Coroners file technically complies with the FOIA. However, with 46 county Coroner offices in the state, the task of performing an independence statistical evaluation of Fentanyl related deaths is nearly impossible. Most Coroners in the state do not have the staff to maintain a searchable statistical data base to keep track of Fentanyl deaths and rely/expect SLED to computerized that record keeping. However, as noted above, SLED will not produce copies or computer queries and will refer the requestor back to particular Coroners office. Most disturbing of all about this situation is that many Coroners do not know how to properly investigate a Fentanyl death. It is true that Coroners are only concerned or charged with determining whether the cause of death was the result of a criminal act or suicide. It is fairly easy to determine whether a fentanyl death is the result of suicide or a crime. In such cases, Coroners simply look for signs of 2 or more pain patches being used. In some suicides, a suicide patient will place the fentanyl patches in their mouth. In the case of a suspected crime, Coroners will secure and retain all the pain patches found at the scene and the matter is turned over to prosecutors. However, in cases involving a death from a mere accidental fentanyl overdose, with no evidence of double patching, it appears Coroners tend to rule such deaths to be accidental and close their file without further investigation. Coroners are not concerned with civil liability over matters of negligence. Incredibly, in some cases of accidental deaths, Coroners will immediately confiscate all remaining/unused Fentanyl pain patches found at the scene and will destroy the patches since they are considered controlled substances. Thus, to the delight of the manufacture, the opportunity for further testing is prevented. Without further testing, it is impossible to determine whether there was any defect in the patch or whether the patient had other medical conditions that made prescribing the fentanyl/pain patch, a matter of malpractice. So, if a family has a loved one who has unexpectedly died from an accidental fentanyl pain patch overdoes, they should immediately demand that the Coroner, the hospital or medical examiner preserve as evidence all used and unused patches at the scene. The family should immediate contact a fentanyl pain patch attorney to help preserve the evidence for further testing by competent technicians and experts who know what to look for.
Wrongful Death & the Complex Laws
The emotional damage can be severe, and the economic losses are often devastating. Wrongful death can be caused by many things, including automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, defective products, construction site accidents, swimming pool accidents, boating accidents, workplace accidents, pedestrian accidents, premises liability accidents, medical malpractice or other negligent, careless, or reckless conduct. When gross negligence or reckless conduct is involved, one may also be able to obtain punitive damages. Our attorneys provide effective, aggressive investigation and representation in wrongful death cases.
Complex Laws – Consult a South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney
South Carolina laws regarding wrongful death cases are complex and technical. The law strictly governs who may recover, such as a spouse, children, parents, or siblings. Claims must be brought through the estate of the deceased relative, and are brought by an administrator or an executor. Damages may include loss of future net income, loss of companionship and love, and loss of support. Punitive damages may be awarded in some wrongful death cases.
Wrongful death cases are always emotional. When you are grieving, you should not make any major decisions without consulting an South Carolina wrongful death attorney. You should not enter into any settlement, sign any release or accept any money in exchange for releasing an individual, corporation, or insurance company from liability without first knowing what insurance coverage or other redress is available to you and your family.
There may never be a time in your life where you feel more confused and financially insecure than when you suffer a serious injury. If you are injured in an automobile accident, you should resist settling your claim quickly with any insurance carrier until you have received all the medical care you need and you have reached maximum medical improvement.
In South Carolina, a person injured in an accident because of the fault or negligence of another, you have up to three (3) years to bring a law suit to recover your damage. While it is certainly not a good idea to wait 3 years until the last minute to bring suit, it is often wise to wait more than few months and perhaps up to a year to make sure you have recovered from your injuries before settling or bring suit. Once you settle with an insurance company and sign their release forms, you will be forever barred from seeking additional compensation if it turns out you require additional medical care for your injuries.
The experienced trial lawyers at Smith & Haskell Law Firm, LLP, located in the Upstate of South Carolina in Spartanburg, represent individuals who have suffered a serious personal injury or personal injury as the result of an accident. If you have been injured, contact the South Carolina serious personal injury attorneys today for an initial consultation to discuss your legal options. Don’t wait, take action today.
Choose a South Carolina Personal Injury Accident Lawyer & Personal Injury Litigation Attorney Spartanburg, Greenville, Upstate SC
Located in the Upstate of South Carolina in Spartanburg, we serve Spartanburg, Greenville and surrounding counties. If you or someone you know has been involved in an serious personal injury or personal injury accident, we encourage you to contact a personal injury lawyer at the Smith & Haskell Law Firm, LLP today at 864.582.6727 to schedule an appointment today to discuss the legal options. We are ready to put our experienced personal injury attorneys to work for you.
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