Most Americans rely on caffeine to get through their daily activities. However, too much caffeine can cause an overdose. Caffeine overdoses can lead to hospitalization, permanent injuries, and sometimes death.
Most caffeine overdoses involve the use of:
- Pills (including diet pills and alertness supplements like No-Doz and Vivarin), and
- Energy drinks.
- Coffee rarely has enough caffeine to cause an overdose.
Caffeine powders and pills are considered dietary supplements and are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). However, the FDA has warned consumers to avoid caffeine powders. These powders can be 100 percent caffeine and one teaspoon of powder equals the caffeine in 28 cup of coffee.
Can You Sue for a Caffeine Overdose?
There is an increasing number of lawsuits against retailers and manufacturers of caffeine pills, powders, and energy drinks. These lawsuits typically argue that caffeine toxicity caused serious injuries to a plaintiff—and that the injured consumer was unaware of the risks associated with the product.
If your caffeine overdose caused serious personal injuries, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Serious personal injuries may include:
- Increased heart rate,
- Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat),
- Cardiac arrest or a heart attack, and
It is important that you seek medical treatment for a caffeine overdose. Medical treatment can help resolve your symptoms—and will be important evidence in a lawsuit
What Claims Can an Injured Person Make?
Most caffeine overdose claims are based on product liability. Product liability claims involve injuries caused by a defective or dangerous product. Product liability claims can be filed against a manufacturer, designer, or distributor of a dangerous or defective product.
Additionally, you can file a complaint with the FDA if the product was dangerous or improperly labeled. While the FDA does not regulate caffeine supplements, they must be clearly labeled and cannot give misleading or false statements about their benefits. The FDA also issues consumer warnings about the safety of supplements.
What Defenses Can a Retailer or Manufacturer Make?
A retailer or manufacturer has defenses against caffeine overdose claims. In some states, comparative or contributory liability may be a defense. In these cases, the manufacturer argues that the consumer negligently used its product, resulting in injury.
The manufacturer of the caffeine pill or powder may also argue that they warned users of the risks of caffeine. If a consumer buys a dangerous product (like caffeine powder) and understands the risks associated with it, there is no liability. However, if the consumer was not adequately warned of the risk, or the product was improperly labeled, the manufacturer may be liable.
Additionally, the manufacturer may allege that the overdose did not significantly harm the consumer. In order to receive compensation, you must suffer quantifiable damages. For example, if a plaintiff argues that caffeine pills caused jitteriness or heart pounding, but did not seek medical care, his or her case will probably be unsuccessful.
What Remedies are Available?
A caffeine overdose claim may result in the payment of damages, including overdose-related medical bills, lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering. These damages will vary from state-to-state and case-to-case.
Should I Consult a Lawyer About my Caffeine Overdose Claim?
Personal injury and product liability claims involve significant medical and technical analysis. This analysis may include:
- Reviewing medical records,
- Evaluating the adequacy of product labeling and warnings,
- Consulting with technical and medical experts, and
- Understanding state laws and regulations.
There are also strict filing deadlines in caffeine overdose claims. If you miss these deadlines, you will be barred from filing a claim.
It is probably in your best interest to counsel with a defective products lawyer before filing a lawsuit. A lawyer can guide you through the claims and litigation process.