On a daily basis, we rely on medical devices, prescription drugs, and household products to improve our lives, but sometimes the very items we accept as safe and helpful result in serious injuries and harm. In many cases, a dangerous product or drug affects not just a single individual, but tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. When there are many victims, we sometimes see what is known as a mass tort claim: a large number of victims banding together to take legal action against a company. Unfortunately, however, many people decide to file individual claims without realizing that they could get significantly more compensation for their injuries by coming together with others who were harmed. I’ll explain more about mass tort compensation cases below, as well as when you need a mass tort lawyer in New York to handle your case.
What is a Mass Tort?
Let’s start small, by defining a tort. A tort is a civil violation where an individual or company causes physical or emotional harm to individuals or their property, or causes financial loss. Because companies have a duty of care to consumers (meaning they are required to protect rather than harm them), when someone is harmed by a product, legal action is of course justified. A tort claim can be filed by any victim who wants to be compensated for damages they have incurred due to a company’s negligence.
With a mass tort claim, a single lawsuit is filed by a group of victims who have been harmed by the same product and who want to sue the same responsible party, known in legal terms as the tortfeasor.
A common question our New York mass tort lawyers at Buttafuoco & Associates get is: if mass torts and class action lawsuits involve a group of victims filing a lawsuit together, how are they different? The short answer is that mass tort actions cover a wider range of claim types (classes), and usually involve serious harm. In other words, many victims that were damaged in a variety of ways by a single product or drug.
A class action lawsuit, on the other hand, involves a group of victims with identical damages and injuries (one class). All members of the class are seen as identical, and are represented by a single plaintiff at trial, which means compensation is often low, even for victims who were seriously harmed. While the company may have to pay a large settlement, the victims will not typically receive much in the way of compensation.
Some victims of corporate negligence choose to go it alone and file an individual lawsuit. However, our tort lawyers serving New York know that joining a mass tort rather than filing an individual lawsuit is often the better choice, as there is significant power in numbers. Large numbers of victims are far more convincing in a court of law than a single individual, and since mass tort claims can share evidence between cases, it’s often easier for attorneys to prove their case. Mass torts are also more efficient because evidence from one case can be used in others, and all cases are heard in a single court rather than individual courts. This tends to make mass torts both quicker and cheaper than going it alone.
Understanding Compensation in a Mass Tort Claim
In a mass tort, different plaintiffs receive different amounts of compensation: each plaintiff in the group is placed in a compensation tier where the damages they are owed reflects how severely they were harmed and how much they have lost in income, medical bills, and injury-related expenses. For example, a person with mild injuries might receive $2000, while someone with more severe ones could receive ten times this amount. The point is, plaintiffs will always recover compensation that is proportionate to their damages. This does not necessarily mean they will recover the exact amount of damages they incurred.
When an Attorney Can Help
Multidistrict litigations are often heard in New York courts. Because corporations have so many resources, including stellar legal teams, it can be incredibly difficult to recover a large amount of compensation from them, even if their product has severely harmed you. A good New York mass tort attorney, however, can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, it is our mission to defend individuals against big corporations. If you have been harmed by a product or drug and believe you may qualify to be part of a mass tort claim, get in touch with us today at 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free consultation.