How do mass tort lawsuits differ from individual lawsuits? These two legal processes have many things in common, but mass torts involve multiple plaintiffs with injuries or damages caused by a single liable party.
Mass torts generally move through the same court system, even if plaintiffs live in different areas, through a process called multi-district litigation. You can learn more about this legal option with a mass torts lawsuit lawyer.
Find out more with our team at Zanes Law. Call or complete our online contact form to get started.
Differences Involving Plaintiffs
One of the primary ways mass tort lawsuits differ from individual lawsuits involves the number of plaintiffs involved.
Mass torts involve a large group of plaintiffs, sometimes thousands or more. Individual lawsuits only have one or several plaintiffs. However, plaintiffs in mass tort claims do not share a single case and may make personal legal decisions.
Mass tort claims are not class action lawsuits, which also involve large groups of plaintiffs. However, in class action lawsuits, all plaintiffs file a single lawsuit together to seek compensation.
Consolidation of Cases and Mass Torts
Mass tort lawsuits go through a consolidation process that individual lawsuits generally do not. The courts often call this process multidistrict litigation (MDL).
MDL allows one judge in one court to hear individual cases regarding the same breach of tort law, regardless of where the plaintiff lives. On the other hand, individual lawsuits usually move through the court system where the act of negligence occurs.
Therefore, the usage of MDL makes mass tort lawsuits differ from individual lawsuits.
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Differences Involving Investigation
The process of investigation can vary significantly when dealing with mass tort lawsuits. Judges for these claims often appoint a steering committee of lawyers to assist with the process of discovery for the mass tort claim.
This kind of committee can exchange information and handle interviews with witnesses, allowing involved parties to build claims to secure compensation for all involved plaintiffs.
However, investigative techniques for mass tort claims may resemble those used in personal injury lawsuits. For example, lawyers handling both claims may:
- Look for documentation showing negligence
- Work with expert witnesses
- Question everyone who saw the accident
- Gather medical records for their clients
These steps allow lawyers to establish fault for their client’s losses and injuries.
Bellwether Trials and Mass Tort Lawsuits vs. Individual Lawsuits
Bellwether trials represent another factor that sets mass torts apart from individual lawsuits. Generally, legal professionals select several trials to move through the court system as a way to test how judges and juries will handle these claims.
Mass tort lawyers select representative cases that resemble the majority of other claims. The results of these claims help lawyers advise their clients about realistic values for their losses, which may facilitate settlement negotiations for remaining cases.
Standard personal injury claims do not use bellwether trials. Instead, each case proceeds on its own.
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Differences Involving Defendants
Mass tort claims usually involve negligence by large corporations with extensive resources. Individual plaintiffs often face severe challenges in holding these corporations accountable if they work alone.
The mass tort process allows many individuals to work together, which can make it easier to face powerful defendants. Additionally, these claims focus on defendants who harm hundreds – or even thousands – of people with their wrongful actions.
Individual lawsuits can be against companies, individuals, or government entities. You can learn more with a personal injury lawyer.
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Time to Resolve Mass Torts and Personal Injury Claims
Generally, mass tort claims take much longer to resolve than personal injury cases due to the scope and complexity of these cases. The discovery portion of these claims can sometimes take years to complete.
However, the exact time for each case varies. For example, if a mass tort claim has several favorable bellwether trials, the defendant may choose to offer a substantial settlement amount quickly, allowing plaintiffs to resolve the claim more quickly.
Keep in mind that you may have to file both mass tort or personal injury claims before the statute of limitations for the case expires. Waiting too long may prevent you from seeking compensation for your losses.
Compensation for Mass Tort and Individual Lawsuits
In many cases, plaintiffs have a stronger idea about how much compensation they can receive through a mass tort claim after the completion of bellwether trials. Personal injury claims may have more variance when it comes to seeking compensation.
Mass tort claims also involve multiple plaintiffs securing compensation through MDL and settlements. Note that mass torts do not function like class action claims, where plaintiffs often receive the same amount of compensation.
Mass tort claims allow for a variance of damages based on each plaintiff’s losses, making them more like personal injury claims in this regard.
Attorney Fees for Mass Tort and Individual Lawsuits
Mass tort lead attorneys can earn higher fees given the massive coordination and work involved for the group. However, this varies greatly depending on the firm you choose to handle your mass tort claim and how many other plaintiffs the lawyer may work with.
Our team can discuss the costs of handling personal injury or mass tort claims when you reach out to us for assistance.
Speak to Us About Mass Torts and Individual Lawsuits
How do mass tort lawsuits differ from individual lawsuits? Several factors can set these claims apart from each other, including the number of plaintiffs, the scope of the negligence, and factors like the usage of bellwether trials.
You can learn more about both claims with our team at Zanes Law. Call or fill out our online contact form to get started.