What is a Mass Tort?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly with Brady Brady & Reilly, LLC.
Mass torts are similar to class action lawsuits in the way that they both involve a group of people seeking justice after being hurt by the same person or company. However, class action lawsuits tend to involve an extremely large number of injured parties that can be spread across the country, while mass torts typically involve a smaller group of people often in the same geographic area. Another difference between the two is that in a class action lawsuit, generally one victim represents the entirety of the plaintiffs, while in a mass tort, each individual involved in the lawsuit will need to present their own individual case. In a mass tort, each victim will pursue compensation for their individual damages, and will need to present their own evidence within their own trial. Mass tort attorneys can be invaluable to organizing these trial proceedings and helping convince a judge and jury of the validity of a victim’s claim. The compensation awarded to injured parties in a mass tort generally far exceeds the compensation awarded in a class action lawsuit. However, mass torts can also be more complicated to litigate.
Mass torts are extremely useful for a variety of claims, including:
- Product liability claims. These occur when a group of people are injured by a defective product. Defective products in this situation often include auto parts, cookware, bad food goods, and dangerous toys.
- Pharmaceutical claims. These occur when a group of people are injured by a harmful drug. In many cases these drugs were originally thought to be safe but later caused harm to the people who used them.
- Environmental lawsuits. These commonly occur when the actions of a company have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. Oil leaks, chemical spills, and the destruction of important natural elements are common causes for these particular lawsuits.
Mass torts are particularly complex and require the help of a mass torts attorney to identify and pursue.
A variety of qualifications must be met in order for a case to qualify as a mass tort. Factors such as the number of victims involved and how close they are in proximity to each other are two elements that could affect a claim’s eligibility to become a mass tort. Additionally, it must be proven that the harm each victim suffered was relatively similar and caused by the same situation or product. These are all elements that a mass torts attorney can help ascertain. Additionally, there will be a wide variety of evidence to work with in these cases considering that each member of the tort will have to prove their own individual damages. This can make an already complex process even more complicated, but with the help of an attorney, they can usually direct you toward exactly what kind of evidence you need to support your case. The recovery for individuals in a mass tort tends to far exceed those generally offered in a class action lawsuit, since individuals in a mass tort have their own individual trials. To learn more about a mass tort or to discuss if your situation qualifies, seek legal counsel.