Mass tort claims are legal actions filed by a group of injured plaintiffs, as opposed to individual lawsuits that typically have one injured party. Unlike class-action lawsuits, mass torts treat each plaintiff separately, and if the case results in a settlement, the court will divide the compensation according to each plaintiff’s individual damages. Many mass tort claims involve dangerous and defective drugs.
Since each mass tort case is unique and involves different sets of circumstances, there is no set time frame for these types of lawsuits. However, there are a number of factors that may affect a mass tort’s timeline.
The Typical Mass Tort Process
Although the circumstances of your specific case may vary, most mass tort cases follow a similar process.
- First, the attorneys involved in the litigation will review medical records, testimony, and other pieces of evidence linked to the plaintiffs’ injuries. This helps the lawyers establish the basis for the plaintiff’s claims, as well as identify the dangerous product and injuries.
- Next, the lawyers will need to examine each plaintiff’s evidence for injury consistencies. They will check for similarities in injuries across all cases, which helps provide the basis for compensation.
- Third, the attorneys will file the claim as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in federal court, which helps speed up the processing time for each lawsuit.
- After filing, a select group of lawsuits will proceed to bellwether trials. These trials act as a test to see how the court will handle each case and the outcomes the other plaintiffs could see.
- Finally, the attorneys will enter negotiations with the defendant to reach settlements. If a plaintiff does not receive an adequate settlement, the case will proceed to trial where the court will determine the value of each lawsuit.
Factors That Influence Mass Tort Timelines
Mass tort claims are often more complex than individual product liability lawsuits. As a result, there are several factors that could lengthen the time it takes to reach a settlement. Mass torts have several processes that take a fair amount of time and effort, including speaking to potentially hundreds of plaintiffs, sharing evidence between parties, and selecting cases for bellwether trials.
Other factors that may lengthen a mass tort case include the following.
- Finding expert witnesses and scheduling deposition testimony
- Traveling to multiple locations to collect testimony and speak to plaintiffs
- Investigating and collecting multiple pieces of evidence
- A defendant who refuses to provide an adequate settlement offer or enter negotiations
A case that settles prior to trial will take a shorter amount of time to complete than one that proceeds to the courtroom. However, not all defendants offer fair settlements during negotiations, and some corporations will refuse to enter negotiations. If your case does proceed to trial, it is important to pursue the claim to the fullest extent so that you can receive the funds you deserve.
Is a Mass Tort Claim Worth the Effort?
While these cases may take a year or longer to reach a settlement, entering this process is necessary. If you are suffering an injury from a dangerous drug or defective product, you deserve compensation for your injuries.
Deciding not to pursue the case can impact your future recovery, leading to financial, physical, and emotional hardship later on. Accepting an insufficient settlement soon after your injury can leave you without the necessary funds you need to recover from your damages. By entering the mass tort process with an attorney on your side, you can protect yourself and your future, fighting for maximum possible compensation every step of the way.