Mass tort involves something that harms more than one person. Groundwater contamination and explosions are a couple of examples of the type of events that may prompt a mass tort claim. Each litigant remains an individual plaintiff, but the cases are handled as a group against a defendant (or several defendants).
Cory Watson Attorneys have experience in mass tort litigation. To find out about a claim under a mass tort, we can answer your questions and assist you.
How do Mass Tort Settlements Work?
Mass tort cases happen when several individuals have personal injury claims against the same entity. Each claim remains separate, but handling several cases as a group can expedite the settlement process.
Each case is held for evaluation on its own merits, so there is no set process or formula to ascertain settlement. Each plaintiff may have a separate settlement proposal based on their specific circumstances. They will each decide on the acceptance of their settlement proposal.
When unable to reach a group settlement, each plaintiff may accept the proposed settlement amount for their case or continue to trial. Verdicts and settlements are not shared between plaintiffs, so each may have a different amount in their proposed settlement.
How Much Can You Expect?
There is no way to predict how much you can expect from a mass tort claim, as with any personal injury claim. Each claim is different depending on the degree of damage suffered by the plaintiff.
Is There an Order to the Process?
When you seek legal representation for a mass tort claim, it begins similarly to a personal injury claim. The law firm will review all of your records, including:
- Medical documentation
- Testimony about the claim
- Evidence supporting your claim
- Evidence from other claims against the same defendant
- Reports about the circumstances of the claim
Attorneys will compare your injury claim to others to verify consistency. Providing information on the similarity of injury for multiple clients establishes the basis for compensation.
Most mass tort claims are filed in federal court as multidistrict litigation (MDL). By filing in this manner, the processing time for individual lawsuits can be accelerated. A small grouping of lawsuits will be selected and sent forward to bellwether trials.
Following the bellwether trials, attorneys will begin the negotiation process with the defendant. When settlements are reached, the matter is considered resolved. If no settlement agreement is reached, the claim will proceed to trial. In a trial, the court will determine the amount for each plaintiff.
What Is a Bellwether Trial?
A bellwether trial is conducted as a sample trial to see how a claim will stand up in an actual trial. A select subset of cases will go through the bellwether process when there are many plaintiffs.
These sample trials offer a glimpse of how the cases will fare in regular court. There be more than one set of bellwether trials, depending on the size of the entire group in the mass tort. They can serve to set precedence for future cases.
Bellwether trials give lawyers a chance to organize their cases, examine the evidence, develop questioning techniques, refine their arguments, and improve the overall efficiency of the court process.
In addition to helping lawyers, bellwether cases can promote out-of-court settlements, which ease some of the burdens on the court system. When the plaintiffs and defendants see how things will likely play out in court, it provides an incentive for settlements to proceed.
What does the Verdict in a Bellwether Trial Mean?
Bellwether trial verdicts are non-binding except for people directly involved in those individual cases. If a plaintiff receives a verdict of $50 million in a bellwether trial, that is a binding verdict. It is not an indicator that future trials will have similar verdicts.
How Many Years Will This Take?
It is difficult to place a timeline on a mass tort claim. Many factors may extend the process. Some of the factors that add time include:
- Speaking with many plaintiffs
- Evaluating evidence from many sources
- Selecting cases for bellwether trials
- Finding and obtaining depositions from expert witnesses
- Collecting and investigating all the evidence
- Travel to multiple locations during evidence gathering
- Defendants that refuse to work with plaintiffs to reach a settlement
Cases that settle before trial are quicker than those that go to trial. It is essential to see the process through to completion to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, even when it takes longer.
Is There a Difference Between Mass Tort and Class Action?
The most significant difference between a class action and mass tort is the handling of plaintiffs. In mass tort cases, each plaintiff receives individualized damages based on particular circumstances. Damage awards may vary significantly from one plaintiff to the next.
In a class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs are treated as a group. A settlement or court award is divided equally among all the participating plaintiffs regardless of their damages.
What does a Law Firm Do in a Mass Tort?
A law firm handling mass tort claims treats each claim in a similar manner to a personal injury claim. Suppose a law firm is handling 100 cases against the same defendant. In that case, they may combine information gained during the individual investigations for the lawsuit.
In addition to items mentioned earlier, some of the additional tasks that a mass tort attorney will include:
- Gather evidence of injury for each plaintiff
- Speak with/obtain testimony from witnesses
- Compile information from many sources
An attorney handling mass tort claims will treat each claim individually while also working toward a favorable resolution for all cases.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
When selecting a lawyer to handle your claim, there are several things that you may consider:
- Is the law firm familiar with similar types of claims?
- Are they handling other claims against the same defendant?
- Does the firm have a reputation for success?
Cory Watson Attorneys has a record of successful litigation, and we are well-equipped to handle mass tort claims. We are nationally recognized and have recovered more than $3 billion for our clients.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
When you need representation for a mass tort claim, Cory Watson Attorneys can help. Contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation to find out your options.