Usually, consumers can sue for damages caused by a faulty product on grounds of products liability or breach of warranty. However, states have made exceptions for blood transfusions.   

What Is a Blood Shield Statute?

Most states have statutes that make warranty or strict liability inapplicable to blood transfusions. These statutes provide that hospitals, blood banks, or medical personnel are only liable if they failed to take reasonable steps to screen and inspect their blood and that the defect in the blood could not have reasonably been discovered. Without any statute or regulation, most courts have refused to apply strict liability to blood transactions. 

Why Do Blood Shield Statutes Exist?

Before there was any wide-scale screening of blood, blood transfusions were a major cause of HIV infections.  Plaintiffs have filed suit against hospitals and individual doctors, claiming negligence. Courts usually hold blood suppliers liable only if they have not followed the industry standard for screening. So, if you have contracted a disease that is not widely-screened for, you may be out of luck. 

Can I Recover at All?

If the agency was negligent in another aspect of the transfusion (such as failing to exercise reasonable care in selecting blood donors), it may be held liable. It is helpful to review the statute of your state.  Blood shield statutes vary by state, with different applicable standards of care. You should also check your state’s statute of limitations. Some states hold that the statute of limitations begins to run after the transfusion. This allows long-latent diseases to be exempt from a claim. 

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Blood Shield Laws?

A lawyer may be helpful in guiding you through the various laws of your state. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether the blood supplier acted negligently. Moreover, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you file necessary paperwork and represent you in court.