Can You Sue Your Drug Dealer in Minnesota?
Street drugs are dangerous, as evidenced by the number of people who die each year from accidental drug overdoses.
This trend’s visibility has risen in recent years. The Brainerd Dispatch reported that, compared to 2019, four times as many counterfeit pills were seized from drug traffickers in 2020. Some of these pills are laced with a substance called fentanyl, which can unwittingly lead to overdose and possible death.
The truth of the matter: street drugs simply have no quality control. So it’s impossible to know what you’re buying.
When a mistaken drug causes harm, can drug dealers be sued? You may not think so, but a law from 1999 suggests otherwise.
Here’s what you need to know about the Drug Dealer Liability Act and how civil cases against drug manufacturers as well as drug dealers can proceed in Minnesota.
The Drug Dealer Liability Act
Perhaps one of the biggest cases in recent news has revolved around the opioid epidemic in America. Pharmaceutical companies pursuing ruthless profit allegedly contributed via drugs like oxycodone.
Civil cases have been successfully filed and won against drug manufacturers. But those cases are against legal manufacturers.
What about illegal drug dealers? This is where the Drug Dealer Liability Act comes into play.
An amendment to the Controlled Substances Act, this Act makes it possible for those who illegally manufacture and distribute controlled substances to be civilly liable for the harm caused by their substances.
In many places, this Act can also justify bringing a civil lawsuit against a drug manufacturer. This has been seen in states like Tennessee, where it was found that drug manufacturers knowingly supplied doctors and pharmacies with a drug even if it was overprescribed.
The bottom line of the Drug Dealer Liability Act denotes that drug addiction isn’t harmful only to those who use controlled substances – it’s harmful to the entire community. Consider how communities are burdened to provide addicts with treatment and assist children in families ravaged by drug use.
MN: Who is a “Drug Dealer”?
You may be able to sue if someone sustains injury or dies from an overdose on an illegally acquired drug, or if a doctor prescribes the incorrect amount of medication.
While this area of the law is still open for exploration, some precedents suggests the following people may be held liable, including:
- Drug dealers
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation clinics
In personal injury cases, it’s important to note that doctors are held to higher standards than drug dealers. This may ease building a case against a doctor, but it ultimately depends on your particular case and circumstances.
You should consult with an experienced attorney to understand your options.
What Can You Sue For?
When bringing a lawsuit under the Drug Dealer Liability Act, you can sue for various damages. Common ones are:
Economic damages are actual financial losses suffered due to injury. These could include:
- Costs for treatment
- Costs for rehabilitation
- Loss of productivity
- Loss of educational potential
- Medical expenses
- Loss of economic potential
- Support expenses
- Damages as a result of absenteeism
Non-economic damages represent intangible losses such as:
- Emotional anguish
- Physical pain
- Bodily impairment
- Mental agony
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of services, companionship, and consortium
- Loss of life pleasure
It’s also important to note that this law doesn’t intend to compensate drug users. That said, they may be able to seek damages if they disclose all their information regarding a drug dealer to law enforcement. For the most part, this law is meant to compensate the following people:
- Legal guardians
- Those exposed to a drug in utero
- Drug user’s employer
- Medical facilities
- Government entities
- Those injured by the user when they were under the influence
It’s important to speak with an attorney about whether or not your case qualifies to bring a lawsuit under the Drug Dealer Liability Act.
The Drug Dealer Liability Act flies under the radar for many people, but it can make a big difference in your life if you’ve suffered damages from drug abuse. It’s worth exploring to understand probable cases and damages you could acquire from a successful lawsuit.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.