A mass tort claim is a lawsuit that involves multiple plaintiffs alleging similar injuries against the same entity. Unlike class action lawsuits that divide a settlement evenly between all plaintiffs, mass torts allow each plaintiff to seek compensation for their individual injuries. Typically involving dangerous products or harmful business practices, many acts of negligence can cause mass tort litigation to arise.
#1: Dangerous Products
Dangerous and defective products are some of the most common subjects of mass tort claims. Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe and provide adequate information to their consumers, and if they fail to do so on a large scale, these injured consumers can hold these entities responsible.
There are three main types of product liability mass torts.
- Manufacturing defects: These claims allege that the product suffered a defect during the manufacturing process that made it dangerous to use.
- Design defects: These claims state the defect is present in the product design and the product is inherently dangerous.
- Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions: This type of claim states that the manufacturer failed to inform customers of hazards it should have, leading to their injuries.
#2: Exposure to Toxic Substances
Mass toxic torts are a specific type of mass tort claim that involves injury or illness due to chemical or toxin exposure. People can suffer this exposure in many ways; for example, someone may come into contact with a dangerous chemical at work, inadvertently breathe in toxic mold or asbestos at home, or develop complications due to toxins in pharmaceutical drugs. Dangerous and defective products may also expose plaintiffs to these substances.
#3: Large-Scale Catastrophes
Man-made disasters, such as fires within a multi-household complex or an explosion at a manufacturing plant, can injure dozens or even hundreds of people. Each victim may suffer different injuries, but the same entity is typically the cause of the disaster. In these cases, victims can form a mass tort to secure compensation for their individual needs without filing separate, time-consuming claims.
#4: Defective Drugs and Medical Devices
Within the product liability category, dangerous and defective drugs and medical devices contribute to a significant amount of mass tort claims. Drugs may cause unintended, dangerous side effects the manufacturer failed to warn consumers or physicians about, and medical devices may contain defects that affect their purpose and cause harm to the patient. The manufacturers of these products are typically liable for their defects.
#5: Natural Disasters
Similar to large-scale catastrophes, this type of mass tort claim involves natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes that cause significant damages and injuries. These claims can be complex, since no entity is directly responsible for the disaster. However, insurance companies who fail to pay out claims following natural disasters can be held accountable through a mass tort lawsuit.
If you sustained an injury or developed an illness due to an entity’s negligence and believe others suffered the same fate, speak to a mass tort attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can inform you of existing litigation, find potential plaintiffs, or initiate a mass tort claim on your behalf. After seeking medical treatment, schedule a consultation with a San Diego mass tort attorney to discuss your options.