Understanding the specifics of a bellwether trial

Georgia and other state courts undergo certain cases that are referred to as bellwether trials. While these are legally binding trials, they are considered a test run for parties who want to see how they will fare. Bellwether trials are commonly held in cases where a mass tort was committed.

What is a mass tort?

A mass tort is sometimes confused with a class action lawsuit. However, they are two different types of cases. A mass tort happens when a civil action involves multiple plaintiffs and one defendant. The defendant is accused of causing numerous injuries through similar acts of harm.

When a mass tort happens, bellwether trials are chosen by the judge. Typically, they’ll settle on three or four cases to try. However, the judge may opt for having fewer or more trials. These trials are presented just like any other injury case. The jury can award the chosen plaintiff with monetary damages for the injuries they incurred.

How do bellwether trials help?

After the chosen cases have been decided, each side has a better idea of how future cases will fare. For example, if a bellwether trial awarded the injured party $500,000 in medical bills and $2 million in punitive damages, the defendant will likely try to settle future cases now instead of going through a trial for each future case. The bellwether trial will give them a fair idea of how much they will need to offer plaintiffs to reach a reasonable settlement amount.

Bellwether trials are commonly used in mass tort cases to help both sides understand how future cases will play out. If you’ve been injured due to an act of another and have found yourself in a mass tort case, it’s fully possible that your case may be selected by the judge for a bellwether trial. If not, you may enjoy the benefits of a settlement offer after the bellwether trials are completed.