Simply put, when a lawsuit involves multiple plaintiffs against one or more defendants, it is known as a mass tort action. In other words, a mass tort is civil litigation that consists of a single accidental or intentional action that causes many people to sustain injuries. The biggest benefit of joining a mass tort claim is that it increases your chances of recovering damages from entities such as product and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Mass tort actions are different from class actions because each plaintiff’s case will be reviewed individually.
Common Types of Mass Tort Action
Since a significant number of mass tort cases involve some form of negligence, the main categories are as follows.
Medical Device Injuries
Per regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for an instrument, apparatus, or machine to be considered a medical device, it must aid in diagnosing, preventing, treating, or curing a disease or affecting the structure or function of the body. But sometimes, manufacturers create defective products that fall below the industry standard and cause patients to sustain serious injuries and even death. The types of injuries caused by defective medical devices include heart attack, organ loss, allergic reactions, permanent disability, chronic pain, tissue or bone damage, infections, and stroke.
Prescription Drug Injuries
When the FDA approves a drug, it means that the benefits outweigh every known and potential risk. And even though pharmaceutical companies go through the rigorous testing and approval processes set by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), some of the drugs end up being dangerous and carry devastating health consequences for the intended population. When this happens, they are removed from the market and the pharmaceutical company will likely be held liable. A claim can also be filed against the medical practitioner if they prescribed the drug incorrectly.
Product Liability Injuries
According to statistics by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many people suffer injuries or lose their lives each year from using or bringing dangerous or defective products into their homes. Some of the common products that threaten the lives and wellbeing of consumers include contaminated food, defective electronic devices, malfunctioning car parts, and dangerous toys for kids. In a mass tort action litigation, the parties that can be held liable for product liability injuries include the product manufacturer, the manufacturer of the raw materials or parts, the marketing parties, the wholesaler, and the retailer that put the product in the hands of the consumer.
How Long Does a Mass Tort Action Take?
Due to the nature of mass tort cases, they are of course more complex than standard personal injury claims. Also, since they typically involve massive payouts to the plaintiffs, they can and often do take years before both parties arrive at a resolution.
Factors That May Impact the Timeline and Slow Down Settlement
Below, you will find a few reasons why your mass tort claim may take longer.
- Locating potential plaintiffs: lawyers typically use mass media or social media to reach those affected by the defendant’s negligence. So, it may take longer to get everyone together.
- Seeking expert witnesses: depending on the details of the case, your lawyer may seek out and depose experts in specific fields to add validity to your claims. Such experts may include doctors, scientists, marketers, and pharmaceutical companies.
- Extensive investigation: unlike class action cases, the plaintiffs in mass tort cases are treated as individuals. So, the lawyers have to investigate each person’s claims, collect all relevant evidence, as well as establish the facts, needs, and damages.
- Procedures: legal processes such as filing initial papers, additional investigation, discovery, motions, settlement negotiations, collection of settlements, and appeals can also impact the timeline and slow down resolution.
To expedite your case and allow it to proceed efficiently, mass tort lawyers advise plaintiffs to:
- File the case as soon as possible—ideally within the state’s statute of limitations
- Be completely transparent and disclose all information relating to their experiences from the beginning
- Adhere to all legal advice
- Be available and establish an open line of communication
Do You Need a Mass Tort Lawyer?
The Morris Bart law firm can help if you lost a loved one or sustained injuries due to a defective medical device, prescription drug, or dangerous consumer product. We are a personal injury law firm with over 30 years of experience in protecting the legal rights of people whose physical and mental health have been harmed by other individuals and entities. When you hire us, our lawyers will provide legal guidance every step of the way and keep you up to date with your litigation. Take advantage of our free consultation and call us at (800) 537-8185 to discuss your case with a member of our team.