Ever since it has been known that Prince died of a drug overdose, questions have been raised about the liability of a drug overdose. Apparently, the deadly dose of Prince was self-administered and his death has been ruled accidental, but that doesn’t mean no one will be blamed for it. There is no one to sue in some overdose cases but in others there are those who could be found liable. Liable means that someone is responsible for something that has happened. In law this can mean a person can be taken to court for damages.

Let’s consider liability for prescription drug overdoses, like that of the legendary musician Prince.

Liability for Prescription Drug overdose

When someone dies from an illegal drug overdose, you can’t sue, but drug dealers do occasionally face murder charges related to overdoses. It’s a relatively new type of phenomenon. In civil law, however, you can’t get compensation for negligence related to an activity that wasn’t legal to begin with. This type of action shouldn’t have been undertakes by the drug taker in the first place. Add to that the fact that drug dealers don’t usually sign off on each sale, like doctors do, making proving liability impossible.

People increasingly are using prescription drugs to self-medicate. They are going beyond the physicians recommended dosages or using them illicitly. Overdoses are unfortunately very common with these too. In fact, Prince’s fatal blow came from a drug that is typically used to alleviate pain in cancer patients. A drug that has often been blamed for a spike in overdoses among illegal users by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Just because a drug is legal doesn’t mean you can’t blame someone for an illegal drug overdose. Doctors may increasingly be on the hook for prescription drug abuses in both civil and criminal cases, however there are some limitations to liability.


Suing for Wrongful Death

If you lose a loved one to a prescription drug overdose and the person legitimately was prescribed the drug you might sue for wrongful death to the extent that the healthcare practitioner and pharmacist were somehow negligent. Maybe they failed to note a pattern of abuse that would have been obvious and it was their duty as the physician to monitor. You may have a claim but it is difficult to say without specific information about the departed loved one, their relationship to suppliers, and the extent to which the overdose was caused by a negligence of duty by those who owed it.

A wrongful death claim is essentially a negligence action on behalf of another, who is deceased, and can only be pursued by specific relatives. State statutes dictate who can sue and how long it is possible to file a claim on behalf of the family member.