When an individual suffers an injury due to someone else’s negligence, their remedy is often a personal injury lawsuit. When many people suffer injuries due to the same occurrence, it could make good sense for them to band together to seek redress. Lawsuits in which multiple plaintiffs sue a single defendant or group of defendants alleging specific individual injuries are called mass torts.
Whether you are considering joining a mass tort case that is already underway or you want to explore starting a mass tort case, consulting an Anaheim mass torts lawyer is an excellent way to explore your options. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney today to learn more.
In a class action, the group of plaintiffs must be similar enough to warrant being grouped together as a class. Usually, they suffered the same injuries in a similar way. Each plaintiff signs on to be a member of the class pursuing the action, but they do not file an individual lawsuit.
Mass torts differ from class action lawsuits in that each plaintiff has an individual case, but they are heard and decided together for efficiency. The plaintiffs’ injuries do not need to be similar, although they may be. What they have in common is being injured by the same product or event.
The plaintiffs have individual legal representatives who focus on protecting their interests and securing appropriate compensation for their injuries. The lawyers for the plaintiffs coordinate their filings and can share the responsibility of proving the defendants’ negligence harmed the plaintiffs.
Certain types of cases can be litigated efficiently when plaintiffs are consolidated. For example, in cases of defective medical devices or dangerous medications, multiple plaintiffs suffered injuries as a result of using the device or drug. These claims might be pursued more effectively as a single mass tort than as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual product liability claims.
Other situations in which mass tort actions would make sense include environmental disasters, toxic exposure, and accidents with multiple victims, such as building collapses, plane crashes, or fires.
The damages in a mass tort action are the same as the damages available in a typical personal injury case. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, expenses associated with traveling to medical appointments, and any other costs or expenses necessary because of the injury. An economic damages award also might include lost wages and diminished future earnings opportunities, if the injuries prevent a plaintiff from returning to their job.
Non-economic damages compensate plaintiffs and their families for the intangible losses they suffered. These damages could be awarded for pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, inability to participate in activities the plaintiff once enjoyed, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and mental anguish.
If the plaintiffs can prove that the defendant’s actions were malicious, intentional, or especially egregious, a court might award the plaintiffs punitive damages. California Civil Code §3294 allows the imposition of punitive damages in certain cases. The intent is to punish the defendant, rather than compensate the plaintiff.
If a court finds the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s damages, the damage awards will be put into a pool to be divided among the plaintiffs. Each plaintiff’s lawyer is responsible for ensuring that the client’s damages are well-documented, to assure that the client receives a share of the pool that will adequately compensate them for their losses.
A successful mass torts case requires a legal representative who understands the procedural complexities of these cases yet can provide the individual attentiveness that an injured plaintiff requires.
A seasoned Anaheim mass torts lawyer could advise a plaintiff about whether a mass tort action is the wisest course in their particular circumstances. Contact the office to schedule a meeting for a complimentary case review.
Benji Personal Injury – Accident Attorneys, A.P.C.