When a medication, device, automobile, or other product is defective in its design, each iteration of that item poses the same risk of harm to everyone who uses it. For instance, if a particular model of car has a steering wheel that locks unexpectedly while the vehicle is in motion, everyone who drives that model has the potential to be involved in a wreck.
When manufacturers or regulatory agencies become aware of design flaws, they will often recall the product. In other cases, the manufacturer might keep the product on the market but make changes to its design or add warnings about the potential for danger.
In cases where a manufacturer does nothing to protect consumers from known danger, or actively conceals the risks, mass tort actions might be the best way to ensure that anyone who suffers undue harm as a result has an opportunity to seek appropriate compensation in a personal injury claim. If you suffered harm in a similar way as many other consumers of the same product, a Kyle mass torts lawyer help you pursue justice against an unscrupulous manufacturer.
Holding Manufacturers Responsible for Unsafe Products
When a dangerous product harms many people, the corporations who profit from the item should be held liable for the injuries or illnesses it caused. This concept is called product liability law. The law of mass torts is a subspecialty of product liability law.
There are many examples of successful mass tort actions that span across decades. For example, mass tort lawsuits in the 1990s sought damages for asbestos exposure, leaking breast implants, and exposure to Agent Orange. In recent years, there have been successful mass tort actions against manufacturers of talc, Roundup, metal hip replacements, and other dangerous products.
How do Mass Tort Claims Differs from Class Action Lawsuits?
Class action lawsuits bring the claims of a large group of people under the umbrella of a single lawsuit. Although there might be one named plaintiff, anyone else who had a similar experience with the same defendant could join the class action lawsuit and receive a portion of the proceeds if it is successful.
Mass torts differ in that each individual has their own lawsuit alleging a similar harm from a single defendant or group of defendants. For example, a Kyle attorney might file a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer in the nearest federal court, but the court might decide that the case is best handled through multi-district litigation (MDL). In an MDL proceeding, individual lawsuits from multiple plaintiffs and jurisdictions will be assigned to a single court.
Before trial, when lawyers gather evidence and elicit expert opinions, the case is essentially one lawsuit with all plaintiffs sharing the information they collect. Meanwhile, settlement negotiations may commence at any time before and during trial. If the consolidated case does not settle, the individual cases return to their home courts for trial.
Recoverable Damages in a Mass Tort Case
When someone participates in a mass tort lawsuit, they retain an individual case. Like in any other product liability action, they must prove their damages by presenting documentary evidence or testimony about the losses they suffered as a result of using a dangerous product. These losses could include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Missed income during recovery or diminished ability to work in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §41.001(5) acknowledges that some cases may warrant an award of exemplary or punitive damages, which are unrelated to the actual losses a plaintiff suffers and are instead awarded to punish a particularly egregious defendant and deter others from acting similarly in the future.
Exemplary damages could be available in a mass tort claim if the manufacturer hid or manipulated evidence that the product was harmful or engaged in similarly reckless conduct. An attorney with experience in bringing mass tort claims in Kyle courts could advise an individual on whether punitive damages are likely to be awarded in a particular case.
Work with a Seasoned Mass Torts Attorney in Kyle
Mass tort lawsuits are an efficient and effective way to force corporations to take responsibility for selling and marketing dangerous products, but they present some challenges, too. Managing the litigation process in these cases could get complicated without legal experience.
Rely on a Kyle mass torts lawyer to handle your claim. Schedule an appointment for a case review today.