April 10, 2012
Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff has released a video to clarify any confusion that may exist over the statute of limitations for metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuits. As numerous hip replacement patients have become aware that they were implanted with a metal hip, they have become concerned about the potential health issues associated with metal-on-metal hips. Additionally, many have also begun asking questions about the statute of limitations for filing a claim over their defective metal-on-metal hip.
What is the statute of limitations, and when do hip replacement patients need to take action?
Stuart Talley, partner at Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff and one of the lead medical device lawyers at the firm, explains why waiting to take legal action over a metal hip that is causing high cobalt or chromium blood levels may be a bad idea. "Many patients with a metal-on-metal hip know that the implant is releasing cobalt or chromium into their blood, but they are not doing anything about it because they don't think it's causing any problems. The problem with that is that if three or four years down the road they do have problems, it is going to be too late to do anything. And if you think DePuy or another metal hip manufacturer is going to pay for your revision surgery or other medical treatment at that time, you're wrong. They're not. They won't have any legal obligation to do so."
What he's referring to is the statute of limitations, the period of time after an injury has occurred when people are allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In most states, the statute is one or two years. But the really critical question asked by many hip replacement patients with a metal-on-metal hip is when does that statute start to run?
Talley's answer: "There are very good arguments, which the defendants will likely make, that once you are aware of the potential for your hip to cause problems, that's when the statute starts."
But for those hip replacement patients implanted with a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip, which was recalled in August of 2010, the answer may be more cut and dry.
"As we approach the two year anniversary of the ASR recall, there's a good probability that will mark the end of the statute of limitations for many patients," Talley explains. "It depends again on the statute in the state where the patient resides, but the lawyers for DePuy will likely make the case that the statute of limitations for litigation involving the DePuy ASR should begin to run on the date that the recall was issued, which was August 26, 2010. That means for patients residing in a state with a 2-year statute of limitations, come August 2012, they may no longer be able to file a claim against DePuy for injuries related to their defective hip implant. While there are good arguments that the statute should not start running until the patient is actually injured, the better course is to not give DePuy the chance to argue that the statute of limitations has run and to file before the August deadline."
The law firm set up a special website located at www.cobalt-chromium-toxicity.com that features interviews with a metal toxicology expert and informative videos about the long term affects of excessive cobalt and chromium exposure. They report that health problems arising from elevated cobalt and chromium blood levels may include cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, and even cancer.
Talley encourages anyone with a metal-on-metal hip implant - particularly a metal hip manufactured by DePuy Orthopedics, Wright Medical or Biomet - to contact a product liability attorney to discuss their rights.