Phoenix Mass Tort Injury Lawyer
Mass tort litigation can give plaintiffs the opportunity to sue the defendant as a large group, if that group was injured by the same product in a similar way. An experienced mass tort injury lawyer can handle this type of complex case and seek justice for all plaintiffs who have suffered injuries and other damages.
What is a Mass Tort Lawsuit?
Usually, mass tort involves product liability claims against pharmaceutical companies for a prescription medication, or product manufacturers, or claims against common carriers such as railroad companies or airlines. Mass tort litigation often involves a large group of people who were injured by a group of closely related companies or by a single company’s negligence.
A mass tort claim is a type of class action lawsuit. Because of this, litigants must have common questions of fact and law in order to join together to sue. A judge must determine if a group of plaintiffs can sue a common defendant, together. They will make this decision based on the facts of the case as they are presented by the mass tort lawyer or team of lawyers. Mass tort litigation will allow a group of attorneys or one attorney to represent several injured plaintiffs in individual cases.
How it Works
Multiple lawyers can pool ideas, information, and resources to ensure that every individual receives a fair settlement.
A mass tort lawsuit is usually much more complicated than a traditional class action lawsuit. The way they’re structured doesn’t necessarily follow standard legal procedure. Since there are a multitude of claims that are brought during the lawsuit, it can be complicated to determine compensation and settlements.
Some examples of successful past mass tort litigations include:
- Tobacco litigation
- Claims against common carriers after a crash or accident, including railroad and airline companies
- Pharmaceutical claims
- Medical products liability claims
- Asbestos litigation
Pros and Cons of Mass Tort Litigation in Phoenix, AZ
When properly organized, mass tort litigation can offer several advantages. First, it provides a more cost-effective means of litigation for all litigants involved. In many cases, the lawyers will handle most of the litigation and the plaintiffs have a more passive role during the process. A large group of litigants with similar harm can ease the proof of claims, which will pressure the defendant to settle.
A Phoenix mass tort lawyer understands that this type of litigation also presents unique challenges to defendants and courts. Some courts may not be adequately equipped to handle so many plaintiffs in one case. Additionally, defendant companies often purport to dismiss claims on the basis that they are not able to fairly defend against so many claims. An inexperienced mass tort lawyer may fail to adequately organize claims and gather evidence between the large group of plaintiffs. This can result in poorly allocated settlements
The Difference Between Class Action and Mass Tort Lawsuits
A court will have different tools for managing a mass tort, including multidistrict litigation and class action lawsuits. These procedural tools will help a court to better manage cases efficiently. They can also help injured parties to obtain compensation for damages more quickly. Both of these procedural actions share the following similarities:
- The lawsuit is consolidated into a single action instead of separate individual lawsuits
- The same common defendants are alleged to have caused harm
- A group of plaintiffs have been allegedly harmed
The major differences between class actions and mass torts involves how the large group of plaintiffs are treated procedurally. The number of injured plaintiffs in a mass tort case can be smaller than those injured in a class action lawsuit. With a mass tort, every plaintiff, even though they’re part of a large group, will be treated as an individual. This means that for each plaintiff, certain facts must be established, including how an individual plaintiff was harmed by the actions of the defendant.
In a class action lawsuit, the large group of plaintiffs is represented by a class representative, who stands for the entire class. This means that all members of the class are treated as one plaintiff.
Many separate personal injury claims filed over a dangerous device or medication can clog the court dockets. Some courts will centralize cases with a single judge, which can help them handle the caseload more efficiently. In federal court, this is referred to as multidistrict litigation.
If a large number of cases have been filed against one defendant, with many new filings expected in the near future, to prevent several new cases from flooding the court, the system may decide to transfer all of the cases to a single judge. One judge will administer and oversee all of the cases so that they’re resolved more efficiently.
Unique Factors in Mass Tort Litigation
A mass tort is one of the most complex types of personal injury claims. Whether you’re considering participating in mass tort litigation over a dangerous pharmaceutical drug or defective product, you need to be sure that you’re represented by a mass tort injury lawyer who is qualified. Without an experienced lawyer by your side, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the full compensation that you deserve.
There are several unique factors that should be considered in a mass tort case. If you’re one of hundreds or thousands of people who were harmed by the negligence of the same group of defendants or a single defendant, then you need to be in a position to protect your individual interests and rights so that you can receive full financial compensation for your injuries.
This type of lawsuit proceeds much differently than a standard personal injury case. In many mass tort cases, the injured parties from many districts will have viable legal claims. These plaintiffs will need to coordinate their filings. A mass tort usually requires multidistrict litigation in federal or state court. There are many specialized procedures and rules that govern these multidistrict claims. These cases must often be approved by a judge in consolidated pre-litigation or coordinated hearings.
The Steps in a Mass Tort Case
To qualify for a mass tort case, an attorney will need to identify injury consistencies. With most of these cases, the group of plaintiffs will claim identical or similar injuries.
The attorney will need to build one case against the defendant. Every plaintiff will have their own lawsuit. However, the structure of these lawsuits must be similar. This is because there will only be a few cases that will determine the path for the rest of the cases. If there are people involved and their cases don’t fit the pattern of the others, then they may not be entitled to compensation.
The lawyer will need to categorize the cases. This is done in a few different ways. An attorney can decide to group the cases based on the duration of the injuries, the age of the plaintiffs, or the severity of the injuries. Once the case has been settled, this is how they will determine damages. Usually, they’ll assign the damages by the category a plaintiff’s case falls in.
A mass tort is filed in federal court. While the plaintiffs may live in different parts of the same state or country, the cases should be filed together. This is how lawyers consolidate mass tort claims.
Because the case will be tried in federal court, you need an experienced mass tort injury attorney. An attorney with prior experience in mass tort law will understand the structure of this type of case and will be familiar with the filing procedures.
Bellwether Cases Will be Tried
A bellwether case is a case that the court and parties select to test their arguments. Before the entire group of cases is tried, the court tries only a handful. The lawyer handling litigation will often choose the most serious cases for bellwether trials. This often includes people who are facing imminent death or people who have passed away.
These cases are basically a test run for the judge and jury, serving as a litmus test for how the following cases will go. If during the bellwether trials, the court finds for the defense, then the other cases will not proceed to trial. Because of this, it’s crucial that an attorney take the bellwether cases very seriously.
Pursuing a Case
A mass tort claim constitutes a representative action, in which there will be a few claimants that are named on the suit that represent a defined class of plaintiffs. Keep in mind, a mass tort case is different from a class action in that mass tort actions will involve individual complaints by each plaintiff. Each plaintiff will receive their own separate trials.
To pursue the cases, an attorney will ask the court for permission to file a mass tort action. The court will need to weigh whether the injuries each plaintiff has experienced are associated with a common cause, the similarity of the injuries sustained, the location of the plaintiffs, and the number of plaintiffs involved.
Settlements and Trial
Individuals or companies being sued in this type of case can face detrimental circumstances. Because the damage involves a large number of individuals, the payout can be huge and can have costly effects on business practices.
The goal of most types of mass tort cases is to settle before it goes to trial. Settling out of court can help reduce the cost of litigation which can minimize the overall payout.
Mass Tort Process
With a mass tort claim, there are a few basic steps:
A lawyer will examine all statements from the claimants, in addition to their medical records. This is done to identify the common injuries sustained, based on the use of a defective product or drug. This is an important first step in the discovery process. It allows the attorney to note all the consistencies in each of the cases and other factors that can aid in litigation.
The next step is categorizing the cases to understand the shared characteristics between them. This will allow lawyers to identify exactly why clients are seeking compensation.
All cases are consolidated to speed up information gathering and processing.
The small group of lawsuits chosen from the larger group of similar cases will be tried first.
This will occur when the plaintiffs and the defendant enter settlement negotiations to settle the claim. Any proposed agreements will be presented to the claimants to determine whether they want to accept the settlement or go to trial.
This type of case involves multiple plaintiffs, which is why it can take significantly longer than a standard personal injury case. A mass tort is a powerful legal tool for people who are able to pool their resources when they’re up against a common defendant. An experienced lawyer can make all the different in terms of the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive within mass tort litigation.
How Long Does This Type of Claim Take?
Unlike a regular personal injury claim that involves one plaintiff, a mass tort is much more complex, given their vast numbers of plaintiffs. It can take a substantial amount of time to gather evidence and investigate each of the plaintiff’s injuries. In some cases, a mass tort claim can take years.
Additionally, a mass tort has other unique processes that can take time and money. There are many status conferences and case management meetings, the selection of the bellwether trial cases, motions, and the sharing of documents between parties.
Some of the factors that can have a major impact on the timeline of a case include:
- The collection and investigation of evidence, such as company documentation, medical records, and more. This process can take several months.
- Traveling to meet with all claimants can also take a significant amount of time, but it’s necessary for the lawyer to locate and depose witnesses, meet with clients and conduct other types of case investigations.
- Finding and deposing expert witnesses such as drug company developers and researchers, marketers, economists, scientists, and physicians.
Statute of Limitations
In Arizona, for personal injury claims, you will have two years to file your claim. Failure to file your claim before the deadline can result in your case being barred from court. Considering the complexity of mass tort cases in general, ensuring you’ve obtained and filled out all the correct paperwork and filed them in time to meet the deadline can be very overwhelming. Hiring a Phoenix attorney with experience in mass tort injury claims will give you much-needed peace of mind and will ensure all the correct paperwork is filed in a timely manner.
Compensation in a Mass Tort Claim
When a defendant is found to be legally responsible in this type of case, the settlement will go into a single common pool. This pool is divided among qualified plaintiffs based on the damages that the plaintiff sustained due to the defendant’s carelessness or recklessness.
As a victim, you must be represented by a mass tort injury lawyer who has the experience and skills required to help you maximize your recovery from any settlement. It’s crucial that every plaintiff’s damages are documented properly and presented to the court. This will force the defendant to provide sufficient compensation for every victim.
Types of Damages
There are many forms of damages that the claimants can seek from the at fault party.
Usually, the claim will include two categories of compensable damages.
This includes financial harms that are related to a claimant’s injuries that should be compensated by the party that is responsible for their injuries. These are harms that affect the claimant’s monetary situation directly, including medical costs, lost earning capacity, lost wages due to missing work, and any property damage.
An injury can also affect the claimant’s life in ways that are not related to their finances. For example, it can cause severe stress, anxiety, physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, or the inability to consort with their spouse. To properly value non-economic damages, an expert witness is often needed.
How Compensation is Handled
A class action lawsuit can result in insufficient rewards on an individual basis since the defendant may pay a large lump sum that must then be divided up among the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs that bring the suit to their attorneys are usually the ones that collect a sum that’s proportionally much larger than what others in the case will receive. This means that several plaintiffs in a class action suit will not receive fair compensation for damages. A mass tort claim fairly allocates the awards based on the damages of each plaintiff.
Every claim in a mass tort case is treated as an individual personal injury case, so the rewards will vary from person to person. This can be a big advantage for groups of people with similar claims against the same defendant. It will allow every plaintiff to pursue and recover compensation based on their losses.
This means if one plaintiff suffers a loss that’s worth tens of thousands of dollars in damages, they will be able to recover fair compensation, while another plaintiff who suffers two to three thousand dollars in damages can also recover compensation that is proportional to their damages.
While the compensation in a mass tort will not be equal among all plaintiffs, the lawyers that handle the claims for the plaintiffs will share details of their investigations and evidence with other lawyers involved in the case. This helps with consolidating cases. Because of this, plaintiffs will benefit from the shared resources of the other parties in the claim.
Finding the Right Attorney
Unlike a class action suit, a mass tort claim is designed to focus on the individual’s unique circumstances, which means that you need the personal attention of a dedicated lawyer. By hiring a local Phoenix mass tort attorney, one with several years of experience, you can ensure that your case will be handled with the type of attention to detail that your unique case needs. Because these cases are so complex, you must hire a lawyer who can focus on the specific nuances of your case, and use those crucial details on your behalf, so you receive a settlement or award that’s proportional to your injuries. You want your voice heard and your case recognized. If you want to join a claim, then you need a lawyer dedicated to representing you and fighting to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Contact a Mass Tort Injury Lawyer Today
A mass tort is an efficient way for multiple plaintiffs to pool their resources together to stand up against a common defendant. Instead of hearing hundreds of similar cases against the same defendant, a court will allow plaintiffs to present a unified case. If you believe that you may be able to join or start a mass tort, the lawyers from the Ferguson Law Group can help. We can take a mass tort claim to court, if necessary, and fight for our clients to receive maximum compensation.
A mass tort claim can be much more complex than an individual claim, which is why you need an attorney with several years of experience in mass tort law. Not every lawyer can represent clients in this type of claim. It takes special training and knowledge to litigate a mass tort successfully. Contact the mass tort lawyers at the Ferguson Law Group today to schedule a consultation and meet with a team of experienced lawyers who can discuss the viability of your claim and answer any questions you may have.
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