The general population is well aware that our nation is facing a devastating opioid crisis. The opioid epidemic in America has claimed thousands of lives across the country and has especially impacted small, rural communities in the Midwest. However, larger urban communities are not immune from the effects of the opioid epidemic. In fact, a number of Wall Street professionals have fallen victim to opioid addiction.
Working on Wall Street is no cakewalk. The jobs are incredibly competitive, new goals are continually being set by superiors, vacations are rare, and even a small mistake could cost millions of dollars. Therefore, the high-pressure nature of the job makes its employees vulnerable to dangerous methods of relieving stress.
Dr. Nancy Irwin is a Los Angeles addiction specialist and psychologist who works for Seasons Recovery Centers. Dr. Irwin noted that financial professionals under tremendous amounts of pressure could easily turn to drugs. She explained, “Opiates are a great way to numb out from the psychological pressures of the business, [and] forget if you have physical pain.” In many cases, professionals have prescribed opioids for physical pain—but quickly become addicted as the substances mask the stress they feel at work.
Trey Laird worked on Wall Street for more than two decades as a trader. He injured his knee while on a skiing vacation. Laird ultimately had to have surgery to repair his knee. Laird’s doctor gave him a prescription for opioid painkillers, as well as a refill. Laird claims that he was addicted to the pills in just two weeks. He recalled, “It happened super quick. There’s no coming back from it.”
Journalists from the New York Post asked Laird how many other Wall Street professionals are battling opioid addictions. Laird responded, “I’m not the only guy. Statistics would tell us in every industry there are functioning addicts.”
After recovering, Laird founded a sober living home in Connecticut that assists professional men in the early stages of detox. The Lighthouse provides highly individualized treatment, as there is a maximum of eight residents at the facility.
Dr. Irwin expressed frustration at the lack of support in the securities industry when it comes to opioid addiction. She said opioid addiction “is an epidemic across the nation,” yet studies are lacking. “To my knowledge, there are no published studies on the Wall Street opiate epidemic.”
Dr. Irwin added that the securities industry itself had offered little support to professionals fighting addiction.
For professionals who are fighting opioid addiction, why do they wait to seek treatment—if they seek treatment at all?
According to Dr. Irwin, three things make Wall Street professionals hesitant to pursue treatment: “The fear of losing their jobs, the fear of stigma and shame and the lack of information on how to handle treatment while abiding by their professional boards.”
Dr. Irwin added that the securities industry needs to take this problem seriously, even without studies to show the true effects of opioids on Wall Street. She explained that one addict usually impacts five other people. She said, “Workers on a busy crowded trading floor might affect many more others having to cover for them, do damage control, correct errors, take up the slack and apologize for outbursts.”
Dr. Irwin added that she has also treated “…lots of CEOs, attorneys, [and] entrepreneurs across the board.”
According to Dr. Irwin, these industries have “[turned] a blind eye to the problem because money is the bottom line.”
Can third parties be held accountable for addiction?
As with many legal questions, the answer is: it depends.
In some cases, physicians have been held accountable in opioid addiction injury cases. For example, perhaps a patient presented a high risk of opioid addiction or should not have been prescribed opioids because of a risk of dangerous interactions with other medications the patient was taking. In some claims, patients complained that their doctors did not adequately warn them about the risks of opioid addiction.
If a physician is negligent, and that negligence leads to a patient’s injuries, the physician may be held liable for the patient’s damages. The patient may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against the physician.
In a medical malpractice claim, the injured patient must show three things:
- The physician owed their patient a duty;
- This duty was breached by a negligent action or omission; and
- Due to this breach, the patient suffered damages.
The duty a doctor owes a patient applies the moment the doctor agrees to treat the patient. Doctors have an obligation to treat their patients in a reasonable way under the patient’s circumstances. Recognizing the signs of illness in a timely manner, prescribing a proper dosage of medication, and providing information about possible side effects of treatment are all examples of what is reasonable under the circumstances.
Showing that a doctor breached this duty requires a careful analysis of medical records and other documents. Generally, an expert medical witness is consulted to provide support for the medical malpractice claim. The expert medical witness is usually employed in the same field as the defendant doctor. For example, if a heart surgeon is accused of negligence, another heart surgeon may serve as the expert medical witness to explain what the defendant potentially did wrong.
The damages are the harm that occurs due to the defendant’s negligence. It must be proven that a doctor’s negligence is the direct cause of the patient’s damages. Damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- The cost of future medical care
- The cost of hiring in-home caretakers
- The cost of altering a home, such as installing wheelchair ramps, to accommodate injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
If the patient dies because of the defendant physician’s negligence, surviving family members may be able to pursue funeral and burial expenses they endured, as well as the value of the deceased’s potential future earnings.
Drug manufacturers may also be held liable for opioid-related injuries. In some cases, drug manufacturers have settled claims with states and other municipalities for millions of dollars. Claimants argued that these manufacturers concealed the addictive nature of opioid painkillers and, in some especially egregious claims, paid doctors to promote their products. One manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics, was even accused of having its employees call insurance companies and pretend to be representatives from doctors’ offices to ensure their medications were provided coverage.
The opioid crisis has shown no signs of slowing down. If you or a loved one was injured by opioid painkillers, you should speak with an experienced Opioid addiction lawsuit attorney as soon as possible to learn what your legal options may be. There are essential deadlines in place that limit how long a claimant has to pursue legal action—so do not delay in seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney.
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At Parker Waichman LLP, our attorneys are experienced in many types of drug injury claims. To discuss your claim with our one of our Opioid addiction lawsuit lawyers, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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