We frequently receive calls from clients who have seen an ad on television about Vaginal Mesh, Xarelto, Syngenta, or other mass tort claims. Often, those clients have either suffered an injury as a result of the product or know someone who has. Because the ads on television are less than helpful, clients have questions and need answers. Mass torts and class actions are very different types of lawsuits. Let’s take a look:
- A class action lawsuit involves a single plaintiff who acts as a representative of a large class of individuals who have been injured in a similar fashion and who have damages that are similar as well. A class action involves a single lawsuit brought by a single plaintiff or group of plaintiffs on behalf of the much larger group.
- A mass tort is different. In a mass tort claim, numerous individuals from across a region or across the country file individual lawsuits for the injuries they have sustained as a result of a defective product. In the mass tort claim, each claim remains separate but joined for certain elements of the litigation process. The mass tort claims are sometimes gathered into a single court for purposes of completing discovery, the part of the process where both sides exchange information, and frequently for settlement purposes.
Again, in the class action circumstance, there is typically a single lawsuit whereas in the mass tort circumstance, there are many, many lawsuits across a region. So, how do you find a competent attorney to address your claim?
For the average consumer of legal services, finding competent counsel to address your mass tort claim can be very, very difficult. There are a number of different types of attorneys who are involved in the mass tort process. Some, you should hire and others you should absolutely avoid.
The first group of attorneys involved in this process, I call The Advertisers. These attorneys frequently run national advertising campaigns urging you to dial a 1-800 number if you have been injured by a particular product. Many, not all, of these advertisers have never stepped foot in a courtroom and never litigated a case. Indeed, these advertisers are seeking your phone call so they can then sell your name and information to another attorney who actually practices law in that area. You are not a client, you are a lead. Leads frequently sell for hundreds of dollars, without regard to whether you ever sign up with a real attorney or not. These advertisers do not provide legal services and will not assist you through the process.
The second group of attorneys is what I call The Real Deal. There are a very limited number of attorneys around the country who legitimately litigate mass tort claims. We work with a number of those firms. These law firms have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the investigation of claims, the product at issue and the nature of the injuries sustained by people who use that product. They are prepared to litigate those cases to trial. Typically, these firms handle a great number of different cases.
However, even amongst The Real Deal attorneys, some firms are better than others. Within the mass tort area, the courts will frequently appoint committees of plaintiffs’ attorneys who represent the entire group of attorneys who may have clients in that area. You will have very little access to information to determine whether your attorney is a member of the committee or just a member of the group being represented by the committee.
Finally, there are law firms like mine. We are knowledgeable about the mass tort process and able to advise our clients as to that process. We have access to a large group of attorneys who I classify as The Real Deal. Because we represent a number of clients in a number of different mass tort areas, the Real Deal law firms are responsive to our phone calls and to our inquiries. Those law firms pay us a referral fee, of portion of the fee that they would otherwise receive, to send our clients to them. Our referral fee is determined by the size of the verdict obtained for our clients. There is no additional cost to the client– we simply get a share of that fee for our work with the client. As such, like our clients, we have an interest in maximizing the return for those people that we represent.
Given our relationship with our clients, and our relationship with other law firms, we carefully evaluate each mass tort claim and determine which law firm would best represent our clients. We don’t just send our clients off as a “lead.” We maintain a file for the case and regularly follow up with the attorney to whom we referred the client. We are always available to provide guidance and advice to our clients on how to address on the current status of their mass tort claim and the status of the attorney’s work for them. We are copied on all correspondence and most pleadings in those files, and are able to explain and work with our clients to understand what is happening with their claim. As such, while we receive a referral fee, we also provide a very real service to our clients in this area of the law.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a mass tort and have questions about how to locate the right attorney, contact us at 855-522-5291 or 24-hours a day at www.tapellalaw.com.