If you seek legal action after being injured by a defective drug or product that has harmed a significant number of other people, you will likely find yourself part of what is known as a “mass tort.” Not to be confused with a class action lawsuit, mass tort claims are filed by a group of multiple plaintiffs with similar injuries, but each case is handled separately. (This is much different from class-action lawsuits, where all cases are handled together.)
One of the most common questions the New York product liability attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates hear in regard to mass tort litigation is how long these claims take to resolve. The answer will be different for everyone, but there are certain factors that impact the timeline for mass tort lawsuits.
I’ll tell you more about it below!
What are the Steps in a Mass Tort Case?
In order to understand how long a mass tort case takes, it’s important to know the steps that take place in this type of case. Because mass tort claims are more complicated than individual product liability lawsuits, there are several factors that can prolong the time to settlement.
Step 1: Evidence Review
The first step in a mass tort case is known as evidence review. This is where attorneys gather medical records, testimony, and additional evidence that points to the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. As you can imagine, if thousands of people have been injured by a product, there will be a hefty amount of evidence to locate and sift through. What makes mass torts faster than some other types of claims is the fact that attorneys can share evidence.
At this stage, however, a New York product liability attorney will often spend a significant amount of time investigating the case and gathering evidence. Without good evidence, there is no case, so attorneys must take time to do this. Additionally, during this stage, attorneys must often travel to a variety of locations to gather testimony and talk with plaintiffs. They must also find the best expert witnesses to interpret evidence, and schedule a significant amount of deposition testimony.
All of these things take time.
Since mass tort cases are complicated, it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney who has handled many such cases. If you would like to know more about what the process will look like for your particular case, get in touch with Buttafuoco & Associates mass tort attorneys for a free consultation.
Step 2: Compare Evidence
Once evidence has been gathered and reviewed, attorneys must compare it across cases, especially in regard to injuries. Depending on the level of exposure to a toxic chemical, for example, one group of plaintiffs may have very different injuries than another. Once the injuries are compared, attorneys will decide how much each case is worth based on the severity of injuries. To learn more about how settlement amounts are determined, read our blog here.
Step 3: Multidistrict Litigation Filing
After evidence has been reviewed and compared, lawyers will file the claim. This type of claim is filed as multidistrict litigation, also known as MDL, which means all cases are heard at the same time in the same location and federal courtroom. As you can imagine, this creates a huge positive in terms of the timeline: when all cases are heard together, the lawsuits can be processed more quickly than if each individual lawsuit is handled one by one.
Step 4: Settlement Negotiations
At this point, attorneys negotiate with the defendants to arrive at the best possible settlements for their clients. If an adequate settlement isn’t agreed upon, the case will go to trial and the court will determine each lawsuit’s value. If a case goes to trial, the process will most certainly take longer than a case that is settled out of court. Another complication that can occur at this stage is a defendant who refuses to offer a fair settlement, or who refuses to enter into negotiations. This can add a significant amount of time to a case.
If your case does go to trial, it is essential to have a good product liability attorney serving New York on your side. In order to get the compensation you deserve, you will need a lawyer who will fight for your rights.
Should I File a Mass Tort Claim?
It’s true that a mass tort claim can take one or more years to settle, however, this is often necessary in order to secure the compensation you need to recover physically and emotionally. Without proper compensation, you may face financial, physical, and emotional hardship in the future.
If you are offered a settlement from your insurance company that seems insufficient, it may be in your best interest to not accept it and instead consult with a product liability attorney in New York. A good attorney can protect you now and in the future, and help you maximize your compensation.
The seasoned personal injury attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates believe in treating each and every client like family. All people deserve justice when a major corporation violates their rights and endangers their health.
Get in touch with us today for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.