The Seven Most Commonly Asked Questions about Mass Torts

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1) What is a tort?
A tort is a civil (as opposed to a criminal) wrong that results in an injury.  The harm may be a physical injury, emotional suffering, or financial loss. The person who has committed the tort is legally responsible for the harm suffered by the victim. When a tort has taken place, the victim can file a lawsuit.

2) What is a mass tort?
In a personal injury tort, you (an individual) have been injured by another individual, group of individuals, or company. But sometimes many people have been injured by the same company. These individuals can band together and file a mass tort action against the company, based on injuries caused by a common product. We like to call it power in numbers. This is a particularly effective approach when it comes to drug- and device-related injuries.

In a mass tort, one attorney, or a group of attorneys, can represent many plaintiffs. These attorneys work together by sharing information, pooling their resources, and designing strategies for the benefit of all the plaintiffs.  

Because the plaintiffs may be located in many different areas of the country, mass tort cases are sometimes combined into Multi-district Litigation Groups (MDLs), where one court and frequently one judge is in charge of hundreds and even thousands of these cases. While taking on a major pharmaceutical or device company is a daunting task for one law firm, even a big and highly experienced one like Gurfein Douglas LLC, the pooling of resources creates a mighty force utilizing its every means to bring justice to innocent people who have been injured.

3) Is a mass tort the same as a class action?
Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually different. In a class action, the plaintiffs are treated as if they were a single entity, and each receives the same compensation. But in a mass tort, each plaintiff receives a separate trial, and the compensation is more individualized. We believe that this gives you the best chance at receiving a settlement that’s appropriate to your unique situation.

4) Do all plaintiffs in a mass tort have the same type of injury?
In a mass tort, each plaintiff might have sustained a unique case of personal injury or death as a result of the same drug or device. For example, the blood thinner Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is associated with several different types of injuries, including gastrointestinal bleeding, brain hemorrhage, and hemorrhagic stroke. The tragic results of these bleeds can range from serious disabilities to wrongful death. Although one plaintiff might have suffered a stroke and the other may have sustained a gastrointestinal bleed, both can be included in the same mass tort. However, since there is no “typical” case, individual evidence is often required to reach a verdict. Ideally, the same evidence can be used in support of each plaintiff’s case. Once the pharmaceutical company has been found liable, individual rulings can be made for each of the plaintiffs.

5) How do people in a mass tort find out about each other?
Mass torts are typically publicized by plaintiffs’ lawyers on mass media, such as radio, television, newspapers, and the Internet to recruit even more plaintiffs to join the litigation.  

6) How long does a mass tort take?
Because a mass tort is much more complicated that a simple personal injury suit, it takes much longer. But it’s worth the wait because joining with other plaintiffs provides a much greater chance of success and a large settlement.

7) How will I know which type of lawsuit is best for me?
If you have been injured by a drug or medical device, the first thing you should do is to consult an expert. We at Gurfein Douglas, LLC are highly experienced in helping our clients decide whether a personal injury or mass tort lawsuit is best for them. Medical products are a sophisticated area of litigation, and only a few firms have the experience and resources to handle them. Our staff includes an attorney who is also an experienced registered nurse (R.N.), as well as a caring and warm paralegal staff. Our lawyers have extensive medical background and a strong success record in winning medical cases.