Instead, a relatively small number of trials, called “bellwether trials,” are held to determine how juries will likely view certain facts of each case, and also to identify what factors make cases strong, and which factors make them less compelling.
The most likely scenario is that, if your case moves forward throughout the span of a litigation, and that litigation does favorably in court, it will eventually conclude with a global settlement.
What is a Global Settlement?
Mass tort litigations typically involve thousands, or even tens of thousands of plaintiffs. A global settlement is reached when all outstanding cases are offered negotiated compensation amounts. These amounts are usually put into tiers based upon the merits of individual cases.
Some of those merits can include:
- Does the emerging science strongly support a link between the dangerous or defective product and the specific injury you or your loved one sustained? In other words, can it be proven that the product was the likely cause of injury?
- Were there other factors that could have contributed to your illness or injury? For example, if a lawsuit were to claim that a specific product gave someone lung cancer, but they also smoked cigarettes, smoking would be a mitigating factor. They would likely not receive as much (if anything) in a settlement as someone who sustained similar injuries but who did not smoke.
- Were the injuries the person sustained fatal, or were they successfully treated? Or is treatment ongoing?
Every litigation is different, and the criteria developed for settlements is as unique as the cases presented. Settlement criteria is often meted out during trials, when juries ultimately decide if the evidence presented supports a causal link — a clear and compelling link showing the product likely caused the illness or injury.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Mass Tort Case?
These cases don’t settle easily or quickly. More often than not, they take years of trials and back-and-forth negotiation talks.
Typically, corporations are not willing to settle until their courtroom losses have become a concern to their shareholders. Plus, because their money is compounding interest in the bank or in investments, they have little incentive to pay those they’ve harmed without significant reason to do so. Once they do, any settlement agreed upon will have been subjected to dozens of rounds of negotiations.
Our team works hard to negotiate what our experience and information tells us are the best deals possible for you. OnderLaw has developed a reputation of staying the course, even when other law firms agree to settle cheaply, if we believe an offer is not in the best interest of our clients. We don’t back down, until our clients are treated fairly.
What Happens when a Settlement is Reached?
When potential global settlements are agreed upon by both sides, settlement packets go out to all of the affected clients detailing the proposed compensation amounts. Those packets must be signed and returned to defense counsel for the settlement to take place.
Usually the defendant establishes a percentage of plaintiffs who must agree to a settlement before it is made official. The defendant is generally given the opportunity to back out of the deal if certain thresholds of participation are not reached.
What is Lien Resolution?
Once a settlement is reached, it goes through lien resolution. This means that insurance companies, Medicare, child support authorities, and any other entity that may have a claim to your award has an opportunity to do so. It often comes as a surprise to plaintiffs that there are medical-related or other liens attached to their settlement or judgment. We work with lien resolution services whose job it is to negotiate down the amount you may owe so that you receive the most compensation possible from your settlement.
Can I Reject a Proposed Settlement?
You will have an opportunity to accept or reject a settlement offer. You should know that the offer that is on the table likely took months or years of negotiation to achieve, and that, if you don’t accept it, the offer is generally withdrawn. The case then proceeds is if it will go to trial, but judges will generally not give trial settings until all cases have been resolved. This will generally result in a multi-year delay. Accordingly, we will provide you with a well-considered opinion regarding what you should do if you are unsure. Still, you do have a choice.
Will I Receive as Much Money as People Who Win in Court?
The amount of compensation awarded to plaintiffs in the courtroom has no bearing on any settlement you may receive.
The cases that go to trial have many risks that the majority of mass tort cases simply don’t have to worry about, therefore the amounts awarded by juries tend to be higher than settlement amounts. Those who go to trial can win big or end up with nothing at all, with very little in between. Their lives are dissected by the defense, and they are forced into the public eye.
In addition, the size of any given litigation can have an effect on settlement amounts that are negotiated. If a corporation is facing tens or even hundreds of thousands of lawsuits, the amount that can be awarded to each plaintiff does have a practical limit. Plaintiffs should not expect to receive compensation amounts comparable to what those who go to court are awarded. However, our team will fight for you to receive as much compensation as is possible.
Are Settlements Confidential?
In almost all cases, yes. Not only are settlements often confidential, so is the settlement process.
The settlement negotiation process is always a fragile one. We are not able to comment on the settlement process at any point. In fact, we can’t even share when a settlement agreement may be imminent, or we may inadvertently jeopardize any potential gains for our clients.
Likewise, anything you say publicly on social media, to the media, or in any other public forum, can not only hurt your chances of obtaining a fair settlement; it can also hinder the process for thousands of other people who have suffered harm.
Am I Guaranteed Money in a Mass Tort Case?
There are no guarantees in law, and just because you have a pending lawsuit does not mean you are guaranteed compensation. Anyone who claims you are guaranteed money is not being honest with you.
Having said that, at OnderLaw, we do all we can to fight for our clients to ensure they receive the maximum allowable compensation for the illnesses and injuries they have suffered.
How Will I Know if a Settlement is Reached?
Our team will reach out to you by mail, email, text, and/or phone if and when a settlement proposal is reached. That’s why it’s critical that you keep us updated if your contact information changes. If we are unable to reach you to obtain critical or court-ordered, there is the potential that your claim could be permanently barred with you receiving no compensation.
Again, it is very important that you read our monthly email case updates and let us know if you move, or change your phone number or email address.
What Do I Do While I Wait?
Waiting for justice in any legal battle is one of the most difficult experiences many people go through. The wheels of justice turn slowly, and the process requires a tremendous amount of patience.
What you can do is be at peace knowing you have dedicated representation, and that you can focus on healing or on rebuilding your life knowing that our capable team is on your side. Contact our office to speak with an experienced attorney today.