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Is Your Injury Claim Suitable for a Mass Tort Action?

If you have been injured by a product, medical device, pharmaceutical, or other widely distributed product, you may be entitled to compensation through a mass tort. Chances are, you aren’t the only person with injuries in Cleveland or across the nation.

What is a Mass Tort Action?

Mass tort actions are efficient ways to award compensation in certain personal injury claims. Mass tort actions are performed after cases where there are large numbers of personal injury victims with similar cases. For example, cases involving defective products, harmful medical devices, or dangerous pharmaceutical drugs are all common mass tort actions, because any of these products can harm large groups of people in similar ways.

How Do I Know if My Case is Worth a Mass Tort Action?

Successful mass tort claims must include the following characteristics:

  1. The defendant had a responsibility of care
  2. The defendant failed to fulfill this duty
  3. The plaintiff or plaintiffs’ injury was directly related to the defendant’s failure to meet their obligation of care or to meet industry standards

Furthermore, the defendant will need to show that the plaintiff’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury. 

Next, is the amount of damages caused. Multiple parties have to experience the same injuries caused by the fault of the defendant. Usually, personal injury attorneys will work with a network of attorneys to find similar cases when filing a mass tort claim.

This serves as a way to consolidate cases and make the claim process more efficient.

As similar cases are consolidated, a small team, or class, is formed to represent the entire body of plaintiffs. Compelling facts and testimonies from victims and connected parties as well as personal injury attorneys become involved in filing the case.

What Are the Signs You Have a Mass Tort Claim?

It can be hard to assess if you have a viable mass tort claim. However, some signs can indicate the likelihood of a mass tort lawsuit. 

  1. Many plaintiffs file claims based on similar causes, such as taking the same prescription drug, or using the same product.
  2. The injuries occurred regardless of distance, meaning plaintiffs can be either living close together or far apart from each other.
  3. The injuries are similar to each other. For example, talcum powder use causing ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
  4. Most importantly, a large number of plaintiffs were involved in the injury.

Mass Tort Claims FAQs

What Are the Most Common Mass Tort Claims?

The most common types of mass tort cases are dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and product liability. These cases usually stem from errors and breaches of liability from the product manufacturer.

Using these points may help you understand if your case meets our criteria for an effective mass tort claim. 

For Dangerous Pharmaceutical Mass Tort

Pharmaceutical companies have the responsibility to adequately test, research, and formulate the prescription drugs they make. If they do not adhere to industry safety standards during the manufacturing process, then these companies can be held liable for injuries that occur as a direct result of this type of accident.

For Product Liability Mass Tort

An example of product liability mass tort is injury due to medical devices, such as surgical mesh, bone implants, or knee replacements. Generally, for these types of cases, a manufacturing error occurred, or a flaw in the design was allowed to continue despite there being a safe option that could fix the flaw.

Additional Types of Mass Tort Personal Injury Cases

If neither of the above two examples sounds like the injury you experienced, then perhaps your injuries fall into the category of toxic mass tort. This is a category of mass tort that involves injuries caused by exposure to dangerous or harmful chemicals in the environment.

The Deep Horizon BP oil spill is one example of a mass tort. Other toxic substance mass torts include Agent Orange, asbestos manufacturing, and pesticide exposure.

What’s the Difference Between a Class Action Lawsuit and Mass Tort?

Mass tort lawsuits are smaller and more localized than class-action lawsuits. During a mass tort lawsuit, each client is allowed to help direct and guide the case as well as get their own compensation needs met.

Class action lawsuits treat plaintiffs as a group. And therefore do not have the same level of rights to direct the outcome of the case. Therefore, plaintiffs do not have the same level of influence in class action lawsuits as they do with mass tort lawsuits. 

Mass tort claims also allow attorneys to treat their clients as individuals, therefore adjusting to individual needs. 

The other difference between class action lawsuits and mass tort claims is that the large group of plaintiffs involved in a class-action lawsuit is represented by a small group of plaintiffs called a class. 

Advantages of Pursuing a Mass Tort Claim

Combining resources with other plaintiffs under similar circumstances can allow attorneys to use facts from one case in future cases. 

Do Plaintiffs Have to Know One Another in a Mass Tort Case?

Plaintiffs do not have to know one another in mass tort cases. Some victims may get to know each other before filing a claim, but it is not a prerequisite for filing a claim. Your attorney will be able to help you find a group of filing plaintiffs if your claim fits the requirements for a mass tort claim.

What is Multi-District Litigation (MDL)?

MDL is a legal process designed to streamline litigation involving multiple parties, such as in mass tort cases. This process consolidates civil actions that span different legal districts and can temporarily transfer pretrial proceedings to one district, while each case involved is treated as a separate case.

Any transferred proceedings are returned to the original district before trial. 

MDL is most often used in product liability lawsuits, antitrust cases, dangerous drugs, securities fraud, and medical devices.

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Mass Tort Case?

The length of time it takes for a mass tort case to settle is unpredictable. Cases may be settled in only a matter of months, but it’s likely to take years before settlement can be reached.

Why Do Mass Torts Take So Long?

Mass tort cases take a long time to settle simply because they usually involve multiple plaintiffs. Generally speaking, the more plaintiffs involved in the case, the longer the tort claim will take. Usually, these cases will take years to settle. Additionally, these cases can be hard to win since defendants are usually large businesses, big pharma companies, or corporations with significant resources.

What is the Average Payout for a Personal Injury Claim?

In general, the average personal injury claim payout amount will fall between $10,000 and $50,000. Smaller cases may involve smaller payouts for a few thousand dollars.

As for mass tort claims, payouts are typically much larger, usually reaching amounts in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How Does a Mass Tort Settlement Work?

After the pretrial proceedings, the courts usually try a few cases preliminarily. These cases are called bellwether trials, and the mass tort attorneys usually choose the most serious injuries to go to trial first.

The bellwether trials are highly important, in this stage if a strong enough defense is brought against the claims, then the rest of the cases usually do not proceed to court.

Settlement for mass tort claims is evaluated on the individual basis of each claim. The severity of the injuries experienced by the victims will influence the final settlement amount. It should be noted that settlement amounts are not split by any of the plaintiffs in a mass tort case. Instead, damage awards are given based on the individual merits of the cases.

Examples of Mass Tort Claims
  • Asbestos caused lung cancer and mesothelioma
  • Agent Orange
  • RoundUp® causing cancer
  • Zantac® and cancer
  • Silicone breast implants
  • Hernia Mesh
  • Medical Devices
  • Prescription drugs
  • Toxic contamination (oil spills, chemical spills)
  • Train accidents
  • Airplane crashes
  • Product liability
Is a Personal Injury Claim a Tort?

By definition, a tort is any harm or injury inflicted upon a victim that can be tried in court. Therefore, any personal injury inflicted upon a victim is a tort. However, a personal injury claim is not a tort itself, as the claim is the legal process of trying the tort.

Is a Mass Tort a Class Action?

A mass tort is a civil action or lawsuit that involves multiple plaintiffs who experienced the same or similar injuries under similar circumstances. Class actions are an option for filing a mass tort claim, but they are not always the best option, especially when the plaintiffs want to have a say in the proceedings of the case.

Skilled Mass Tort Attorneys at The Cochran Firm Cleveland

If you’ve been injured and suspect you may have a mass tort claim, call the attorneys at the Cochran Firm Cleveland for a free case evaluation. Should your case proceed to court, our attorneys will fight by your side to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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