A drug or product that is inherently dangerous tends to harm multiple parties. It may not be practical for a harmed individual to take on what is often a large company to recover compensation for losses.
Multiple parties with similar injuries have the right to pursue collective legal action against a negligent entity, which is often a corporate manufacturer in these cases.
At Shane Smith Law, we are dedicated to helping injured victims seek justice and recover compensation. Our mass tort lawyers leverage our firm’s comprehensive resources to assist clients in these complex, high-stakes cases, and we are prepared to put our experience to work for you. Our team will carefully review your circumstances and walk you through all available legal options. We can also connect you with quality treatment providers while we get to work on your case.
If you have questions about mass torts and whether pursuing one may be the right choice for your case, we encourage you to call (980) 246-2656 or contact us online. Se habla español.
What Are Mass Torts?
An individual “tort” is a civil act of wrongdoing that warrants civil legal action. The goal of any resulting litigation is to secure compensation to cover the plaintiff’s injuries and other related losses.
A “mass tort” occurs when a person or entity harms multiple parties through a single “action,” such as the manufacturing and distribution of a defective drug or product. When a mass tort occurs, multiple plaintiffs – who by definition have similar grievances – work together to take legal action against the perpetrator. It can be a prudent, advantageous approach when an individual who suffered harm does not have the resources to pursue a lawsuit alone.
Mass torts are typically filed as “class actions” or multi-district litigation. This distinction is important, as it determines how the plaintiffs are treated and how much they can ultimately recover.
A class action “combines” the disparate plaintiffs into a single “class.” One or several plaintiffs represent the rest of this class, and a single legal team advocates for the class throughout the case. People who were potentially affected by the actions of the defendant – often people who may have used a defective drug or product – will be invited to join the class action. Any damages that are awarded are split amongst the class, and participants who accept their share of the settlement cannot pursue individual legal action.
Multi-district litigation works differently in that individuals still get their own trials and (potentially) damage awards. Pre-trial proceedings are combined and handled before a single court, after which each case is sent back to the applicable court. Individuals are more likely to recover a greater level of compensation in multi-district litigation versus a class action, but they will be required to file their own claim, retain their own legal team, and prove their own case.
Whether you should pursue your mass tort as a class action or multi-district litigation will depend on the number of plaintiffs affected and the nature and extent of your injuries. Our mass tort attorneys can help you make the most advantageous decision.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Mass Tort?
In cases involving a defective drug or product, the manufacturer can often be held responsible for the harm their drug or product causes. Depending on the facts of the case, other parties may be liable for injuries, as well. Potentially liable parties could include the manufacturer of raw elements or components used to manufacture the defective product, the parties responsible for marketing the defective product, the wholesaler, and the retailer(s) that sold the product to the injured plaintiffs. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the nature of the defect to determine who can be held liable.
Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Mass Tort
Product liability lawsuits are subject to each state’s statute of limitations. This means that if you want to recover damages through a mass tort action, you must start the legal process before the applicable deadline. If you wait too long, you will be barred from recovering any compensation, so get legal advice as soon as possible.
Our mass tort attorneys will fight to recover compensation for all pertinent economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
Remember that the type of mass tort case you pursue will affect what you can recover. In a class action, you accept a portion of any settlement awarded to the class. You can potentially recover more in multi-district litigation, as any award is tied to your specific damages. Our team can walk you through what you can expect to recover and advise on the most beneficial approach.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible to join an existing mass tort lawsuit, contact us online or call (980) 246-2656 to start exploring your legal options.
A mass tort is only pursued when the same “act” harms many people. Consequently, there are only a handful of common scenarios where this form of legal action makes practical and strategic sense.
Our mass tort lawyers can represent you in cases involving:
- Defective drugs. If a drug triggers unintended and dangerous side effects that the manufacturer did not anticipate or warn the medical community or consumers about, the affected persons likely have a claim.
- Defective products. A product can be inherently defective due to its design or as the result of a problem during the manufacturing process. A product can also be considered dangerous if the manufacturer fails to provide sufficient instructions on how to safely use it.
- Toxic contamination. A large group of people could suffer adverse effects after being exposed to a dangerous contaminant in a product or at a location, such as a rented home or workplace.
- Hernia mesh. Hernia mesh is a medical device used in certain types of surgeries. Many patients experience painful complications after hernia mesh is used, including infections, adhesion, and bowel obstructions. Many people required additional surgeries to reverse or mitigate the damage. The frequency of these adverse outcomes has led to a number of mass tort actions against hernia mesh manufacturers.
- Roundup. Several parties who developed cancer after using Roundup, a popular weed-killing product, have won millions in damages. Thousands of lawsuits, many of them ongoing and pursued as multi-district litigation, have been filed throughout the country.
- Zantac. Zantac products containing ranitidine have been found to contain unsafe levels of NDMA, which can cause various cancers. A class-action lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer is ongoing.
How Are Mass Torts Different from Personal Injury Claims?
It is important to understand that a mass tort action is a type of personal injury litigation. The goal of both legal processes is to hold negligent parties accountable and provide victims with compensation for their injuries.
A personal injury claim involves a single plaintiff. You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of a defective drug or product (and potentially other liable parties). Corporate organizations tend to have vast legal resources, however, and these cases can often be too large for any one plaintiff to handle – even if they have an excellent legal team.
There is strength in numbers, and mass torts allow personal injury victims to come together and pool their resources. Again, a class action lets several plaintiffs fight for all potentially injured parties, while multi-district litigation allows individuals to retain some control over their own claims. Both approaches allow all plaintiffs to share research, including information found during the discovery process and the valuable testimony of relevant experts. In an individual personal injury case, you and your legal representatives are exclusively responsible for handling every element of the case.
What Is the Role of an Attorney in a Mass Tort?
Retaining a strong lawyer to represent your interests in a mass tort action is essential. A skilled attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, gather information from various plaintiffs, assemble all available evidence, source expert testimony, and develop a compelling, persuasive case. They will know whether it makes sense to pursue your claim as a class action or as an individual lawsuit in multi-district litigation, and they can file all necessary paperwork with the relevant courts. The goal is to facilitate recovery as quickly as possible, and a lawyer will work to negotiate a fair monetary settlement. Should that not be possible, your attorney will fiercely advocate for you in court.
Why Shane Smith Law?
Our track record at Shane Smith Law speaks for itself: We have settled over 10,000 claims and have earned the trust of countless clients. In addition to getting you the justice and compensation you deserve, we are committed to ensuring you have access to the quality treatment you need to get better. While you focus on your recovery, our mass tort attorneys will use our extensive resources to pursue an optimal outcome.
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