If you’ve ever wondered how to collect damages in an event involving more than one, two, or even dozens of people, you’re not alone. There is an area of law for that.
This area is called mass crime, attorney Elizabeth Yang said. And she said there is a very clear definition of what is mass crime and what is not.
“It’s like a personal injury, but on a massive scale,” she said. “In a personal injury case, it’s like one or two people getting hurt. But in mass crimes, one thing happens and maybe thousands of people are hurt on a massive scale.
With a plethora of injuries needed to qualify for a mass tort case, why can’t this just fall under class action law?
“People ask, ‘Is this like class action lawsuits?'” Yang said. “Really, it’s different from class action lawsuits. In class action, everyone suffered the same damage. And usually the party suing will get a lot of money and everyone else will get $2.
She added that unlike class actions, mass torts treat plaintiffs as individual entities against one or more defendants in civil court. In this type of case, each claim proceeds independently, alleging the same or similar claims to the others.
Typically, mass torts include injuries caused by unsafe drugs, defective products, or medical devices against identified companies or manufacturers. Additionally, it encompasses claims against medical practices, and even environmental disasters and toxic conditions, Yang said.
The word “different” is key to defining mass torts in injury.
“In mass crime, everyone suffers a different injury, all stemming from the same cause,” she said. “So everyone can raise a lot of money. So maybe in a fire caused by a huge utility company, someone who has lost a loved one can collect $10 million. Someone whose house burned down can collect $5 million. It goes like this. If someone loses their car, they might get $10,000. It depends on the nature of the injury. This is why each person involved receives a different amount of money.
And several large corporations and government organizations have found themselves accused in mass liability cases in recent years.
“PG&E is a prime example of mass crime,” Yang said. “One of their power lines had a short circuit. This caused a huge forest fire and an entire town burned down. And thousands of people had different injuries.
One company that was involved in a mass tort situation was heartburn medicine Zantac.
Even the federal government is not immune to mass tort cases. Currently, the federal government is under investigation for water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
If you find yourself in a mass crime situation, Yang said the first thing you should do is get legal representation.
“They need to find a mass crime lawyer and file a complaint as soon as possible,” she said. “There are always statutes of limitations running out and every situation is different, so never delay in those situations.”
An interesting note: not all applicants need to have the same legal representation, so you can look around and find someone you are comfortable with.
“You don’t have to sign with the same attorney,” Yang said. “There may be several different attorneys working on the case, so you should be spoiled for choice.”
But if you’re pursuing a case, you need to understand what is and isn’t a mass crime.
“It’s not like an earthquake, which is a natural disaster,” she said. “In mass crimes, someone is responsible. Someone caused it. Usually a company caused it.
And how is Yang Law Offices involved in the mass crime world? Yang said she specializes in personal treatment while having an extensive network of attorneys and expertise to draw on.
“We are in contact with many major law firms in this area,” she said. “I work as co-counsel here. I don’t try to do everything myself. But it’s definitely something people should know. You just don’t know when something like this that might fall under the rubric of mass crime might happen.
Individuals wishing to discuss any aspect of family law or mass tort law can call Yang Law Offices at (877) 492-6452 or log on to www.yanglawoffices.com.