A mass tort is a civil lawsuit characterized by the involvement of multiple injured parties. At the same time, typically there will be only one or very few defendants. Mass torts generally involve negligence, product liability, or intentional tort claims and may provide significant compensation to the plaintiffs. Many of these cases could result in large settlements or verdicts. Mass torts are personal injury cases that require chart review for many plaintiffs who have been injured or taken ill. Plaintiffs’ attorneys utilize medical review solutions to evaluate the medical charts of their clients to determine the legal validity of each plaintiff’s claim. Importantly, a comprehensive review of the medical records provides the medical evidence that enables the attorney to take up only those cases that have merit.
In a mass tort lawsuit, the plaintiffs have a similar claim against one product, drug, company, disaster, policy and so on. The multiple plaintiffs involved are not required to file their case at the same time or even meet throughout the mass tort lawsuit. If the mass tort case is successful and the plaintiffs are granted compensation, other plaintiffs involved are provided a certain amount of time to file a claim and get compensation.
Types of Mass Tort Lawsuits That Require Chart Review
- Product liability lawsuits involving hazardous or dangerous products: These are a common type of mass tort claim wherein users are harmed by a particular product. Product manufacturers are required to ensure that their products are safe, and provide adequate information to the consumers. If manufacturers fail to do so and consumers are injured, the latter can hold the former responsible. Product liability mass torts involve products with:
- Manufacturing defects where the product suffered a defect during the manufacturing stage, as a result of which it became dangerous to use.
- Design defects where the product was poorly designed and therefore inherently dangerous to use.
- Inadequate warnings/instructions, wherein the manufacturer failed to inform consumers of possible hazards related to the product, which resulted in injuries or harm to the consumer.
- Defective medical devices and drugs: These contribute to a number of mass tort claims. Cases involve drugs that may cause dangerous, unintended side effects about which the manufacturer failed to warn the consumers and physicians; and medical devices that may contain inherent defects that affect their purpose and result in harm to the patients.
- Exposure to poisonous or toxic substances: These are mass toxic torts that involve illness or injury to the person due to exposure to some chemicals or toxins. Dangerous and defective products can also expose plaintiffs to such toxins or pharmaceutical drugs.
- Natural disasters: Hurricanes, tornadoes and other types of natural disasters can cause considerable injuries and damages. In these claims, no entity is directly responsible for the disaster and therefore such cases can be very complex. Insurance companies may fail to provide compensation for the victims and this could lead to mass tort claims.
- Man-made disasters: These include fires in residential complexes, explosion at a manufacturing plant and so on that can cause injury to hundreds of people. The cause of the disaster will be the same entity though the victims may incur different injuries. A mass tort can be filed by the victims to secure compensation for their individual needs. There is no need to file separate, time-consuming claims.
According to sneedmitchell.com, mass tort claims filed in 2022 include the following:
- Firefighting foam
- 3M earplug
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit
- Hip replacement
- Hernia mesh
- Philips CPAP machine
The Key Role of Medical Records Services
When a person is injured due to a product, device, or natural disaster, it entails medical treatment and generation of medical records. The medical records provide solid proof regarding the injury, its nature, impact, and expenses involved. This necessitates medical record review to extract this evidence. The review process can be expensive, time-consuming, and burdensome for attorneys and their legal teams especially because the review requires specific medical knowledge and training to clearly understand the content of the records and determine which data or details are relevant and which are not.
When performed by a professional medical review company, attorneys benefit from a comprehensive review, well-organized medical records, and a good medical case summary. Attorneys can request the specific type of summary they need – comprehensive summary, narrative medical summary, medical chronology and timelines, or annotated index summary. The medical review report prepared will contain all relevant data pertaining to each claimant such as demographics, medical procedures, product ID, important procedures or surgeries, standard of care, severity of the injury, and so on. Thus, the attorney is armed with all the information needed to determine the case merit, present the claim successfully, and secure adequate compensation for the clients.