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How Long Does it Take to Settle a Mass Tort Lawsuit?

Author
Alicia Betz
June 19, 2022

People who have been injured or harmed by a dangerous or defective product rightfully want to be compensated for their injuries. Sometimes when a large number of people are affected by a product, cases are combined into a mass tort lawsuit

Entering into a mass tort lawsuit could help you receive compensation, but you may need to wait a while to see any money. Learn how long it takes to settle a mass tort lawsuit and why it is not a quick process. 

What is a Mass Tort Lawsuit? 

A mass tort lawsuit is one way to combine a large group of proceedings. They typically occur when a lot of people file a lawsuit against the same defendant, which is often the manufacturer of a product. Usually, the product caused harm to many people and the plaintiffs claim that the manufacturer was negligent in some way. 

The products in question in mass tort lawsuits are considered dangerous or defective, and they are often medication or medical devices. Two examples of mass tort cases involving medication include Talcum Powder and Elmiron. Other examples of mass tort cases involving dangerous and defective products include Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Roundup. In all of these cases, a large number of plaintiffs claim that they were injured by these products and that the manufacturers were negligent. The plaintiffs believe the defendants knew their products were dangerous. 

People filing mass tort lawsuits are looking for compensation, and when you enter into one of these lawsuits, it’s understandable that you want to know how soon you’re likely to see any sort of monetary compensation. 

How Long Do Mass Tort Cases Take to Settle? 

When you enter into a mass tort case as a plaintiff, you’re probably going to wait a while until you see any money. Most cases take at least a year to settle, with many often taking two, three, or more years. Of course, settlement time can vary based on many different factors. 

Mass tort cases have a lot of moving parts, and there are many steps to take before everything is all said and done. There are also a lot of people involved in a mass tort case, from plaintiffs to witnesses to experts, which can increase the time it takes to settle. 

To understand why it will likely take you a long time to see any money if you enter a mass tort case, you should first understand how mass tort cases work. 

How Do Mass Tort Lawsuits Work?

In mass tort lawsuits, each plaintiff has their own case, unlike in a class action lawsuit where plaintiffs are combined into one large case. While it can make things a bit more complicated and drawn out, mass tort cases need to be separated this way because plaintiffs in these cases have different injuries or their injuries vary in severity. By separating each case, it’s more likely that you’ll get fair compensation for your injuries. In class action lawsuits, the plaintiffs typically have very similar injuries. 

To begin a mass tort case, you’ll file your case in civil court with the help of an attorney. Once there are many lawsuits filed, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will decide if the cases will be combined into multidistrict litigation (MDL). If they are combined, the discovery process begins next. 

During the discovery process, both sides look at the information and evidence in the case. This may include but is not limited to looking at the evidence, listening to experts' depositions, and hearing testimony from witnesses. This helps each side have an understanding of how the proceedings might go.  

Next, a few of the cases are chosen to be heard in bellwether trials. These are meant to be a sampling of the larger group of cases. In each bellwether trial, the court will decide if the plaintiff deserves compensation and if so, how much. After the court hears a few bellwether trials, everybody involved in the mass tort lawsuit will have a better idea of how the cases will continue to go. 

Based on the results of the bellwether trials, the defendant might decide to settle the rest of the cases, or they may decide that each case should continue to go to trial. 

If a global settlement is reached, you can choose to opt in or out of the settlement at that time. 

Because there are so many steps and a lot of moving parts, cases in a mass tort lawsuit can take years to settle. This means you may have a long wait if you are trying to get compensation for your injuries. 

What Makes a Mass Tort Lawsuit Take So Long? 

In addition to the general process of mass tort lawsuits, complicating factors can make reaching a settlement take even longer. Complicating factors can include: 

  • An extraordinarily large number of lawsuits
  • An uncooperative defendant
  • Medical validation or expert testimony
  • A high compensation value
  • Necessary travel

While it may take a long time to see any money in a mass tort lawsuit, filing a case is still worthwhile. If you are successful, you could end up with a large sum of money that compensates you for your past, present, and future needs. When you’re injured by a product, it’s important to talk to an attorney about your rights and what steps you can take to seek justice.

To learn more about open mass tort cases, check out this page, or email us at [email protected].

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