If you’re considering participating in a mass tort lawsuit—or perhaps you are already in the process of doing so—you may be wondering how much of a time investment you can expect. The short answer is this: There really is no way to predict how long it will take to settle a mass tort case, but we can look at several factors that may affect its timeline.
What Is a Mass Tort?
A mass tort is a type of lawsuit filed when many people have experienced the same wrong or harm. Most commonly, they involve defective products that cause injury, medications, medical malpractice, or bad faith insurance. Unlike class action lawsuits, which is where many plaintiffs group their cases together to be tried at once, mass torts are evaluated and settled individually.
Mass torts are typically very complex and involve many people. This is why they are often long processes with timelines that are impossible to predict. Some may reach a settlement within a year, while others may drag on even longer.
The Claim Process for a Mass Tort Case
Every mass tort case is unique. Still, most cases tend to follow these basic principles:
- Attorneys review medical records, testimony, and other pieces of evidence to establish the foundation of the plaintiffs’ claims.
- Evidence is reviewed for injury consistencies across all plaintiffs to help provide a basis for compensation.
- A claim is filed as a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in federal court.
- A select group of lawsuits proceeds as bellwether trials to test how courts will react to each case and to predict possible outcomes for other plaintiffs.
- Attorneys enter negotiations with the defendant. If an adequate settlement can’t be reached for the plaintiff, the case moves on to trial so the court can determine the value of each lawsuit.
Factors Influencing the Length of a Mass Tort Claim
Mass tort claims are more complex and take longer due to any of the following aspects:
- Many individual plaintiffs
- A defendant who is unwilling to cooperate regarding the settlement
- A plaintiff’s injuries require medical validation
- Procedures requiring expert witness testimony
- The necessity for attorneys to travel to conduct investigations and collect evidence
- Severe harms that might require huge compensation
- The amount of compensation in question
Should You File a Mass Tort Claim?
While mass tort cases take a long time to come to a settlement, you should still contact a lawyer if you believe you may have grounds for a lawsuit. If you don’t, you may have to pay for the damages, disability, medical expenses, accommodation, and emotional discomfort on your own. These could run into millions of dollars. Many suits are also subject to a statute of limitations, meaning you risk of running out of time to seek justice at all.
Filing a lawsuit against the offending party is the only way you can be compensated. After filing, follow the claim to its conclusion to ensure you’re paid what you deserve.
A Way Forward
After discovering your injuries, speak to a mass tort lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will discuss your claim’s full value and help you understand the entire process moving forward. They will put all your legal options before you to get you started on joining a mass tort claim and on your way to justice.