Attorneys nationwide are joining the trend to add mass tort claims to their personal injury practice. Based on conservative estimates, two to four million people are seriously or fatally injured in mass tort cases every year.
A mass tort practice is an opportunity for law firms of any size. So many attorneys are starting mass torts practices that the litigation now makes up 36 percent of the entire federal civil docket.
The best way to grow a mass tort practice area is marketing with a content-driven website. A strong organic web presence with a blog capitalizes on how clients search for mass tort lawyers.
Most mass tort cases are product liability cases against pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Lawyers are taking notice of the dramatic settlements and jury verdicts returned recently in mass tort cases:
- A New Jersey state court jury on Dec. 14 awarded $15 million to a plaintiff and her husband in the state’s second pelvic mesh trial against against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon.
- A Pennsylvania appeals court panel on Dec. 15 upheld a verdict of $29.6 million involving a Zimmer Inc. knee replacement.
- A Texas federal jury on Nov. 16 awarded six plaintiffs $247.49 million in the fourth multidistrict litigation trial involving the DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle hip.
- Endo International Plc agreed as of Aug. 7 to set aside an additional $775 million to resolve the remaining lawsuits alleging the company’s vaginal-mesh implants eroded in some women, leaving them incontinent and in pain.
Ordinarily, a personal injury practice consists of single-event matters. In contrast, a mass tort practice offers economies of scale, where an attorney can represent numerous plaintiffs who have been injured or killed by the same drug or medical device.
Hallmarks of mass tort cases
The hallmarks of mass torts cases include:
- Many plaintiffs but same defendant.
- Easily reach potential clients with content marketing and blog posts.
- Economy of scale — attorneys can focus on acquiring clients with common legal issues and facts.
- National practice in single federal court.
- Consolidated discovery by plaintiffs and defendants.
- Court-approved short-form complaint and plaintiff fact sheet available on court website.
- Court appoints a plaintiffs’ steering committee to manage the litigation.
- A 5-7 year settlement window.
These cases are national in scope and involve filing same primary claim over and over for multiple plaintiffs. The math is compelling: in the right situation it can cost $1,500 to acquire a client with a case that will settle for $300,000.
As of January 2018, there are 220 federal MDL dockets with a total of 116,171 actions pending in 51 US District Courts.
Watch these on-demand webinars about marketing mass torts:
Finding clients for mass torts cases with content marketing
Marketing with a content-driven website is the best strategy to find mass tort cases with high settlement values. A strong organic web presence with a blog capitalizes on how clients search for mass tort lawyers.
Successful mass tort attorneys will create a 5,000-word to 50,000-word mass tort practice section on their law firm’s website that responds to the way that injured claimants research for a solution to their medical problem. The practice description should be supported with regular blog posts that describe new developments in the law and medicine.
A great illustration can be found in Gilman & Bedigian’s website, which contains a comprehensive Taxotere lawsuit guide. The guide, which our content team created for the firm, dives deep into the history, science and logistics of Taxotere litigation to give potential plaintiffs and their families an information-rich help center that educates and inspires potential clients to contact the firm.
More than 4,000 Taxotere cases are pending before US District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana in MDL 2740, charging that that Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn doctors and patients about the increased risks of total, permanent hair loss caused by Taxotere.
Potential plaintiffs will find the sections on the site about side effects, different kinds of cancer, Taxotere key terms, hair loss, and even fashion after Taxotere hair loss. Once on the site, potential clients will visit the key section on litigation, a timeline of litigation, MDL consolidation, the growing number of cases and synopses of two lawsuits.
As the site demonstrates, the goal of marketing must be to educate clients about the side effects of the product they used. Lawyers should use clear, concise language that the general public will understand. Your marketing should be about the client — not about the firm.
Targeting client personas
Content marketing should be laser-focused on potential clients, by building the content around client personas.
A persona is a representation of an ideal client based on the clients’ needs, motivations, and background. When attorneys understand what drives their potential clients, they’re able to write content that addresses those needs, answers their questions, and encourages them to contact the law firm when they’re ready.
An example of a client persona for a mass torts case
For example, a clear client persona exists for Xarelto mass tort clients.
More than 21,000 cases are currently pending in MDL 2592 for Xarelto, which is a blood thinner designed to prevent blood clots. An average of 450 new actions are filed each month.
- Most plaintiffs are domiciled in Texas, Florida and California with more than 1,000 claimants each.
- Plaintiffs fall into particular age groups:
- 60 – 69 = 20%
- 70 – 79 = 30%
- 80 – 89 = 30%
- 48% of plaintiffs allege a gastrointestinal bleed as the primary medical issue.
This information allows attorneys to tailor their content. Effective content will also respond to the questions that potential mass tort clients are researching.
Initially, they are not initially looking for attorneys — they are looking for articles about:
- Symptoms and side effects.
- Type of injuries caused by the drug or device.
- FDA warnings and research.
- Medical options such as surgery, testing and monitoring.
Blogging to get new business for a mass torts practice
Potential clients are looking for current information, beyond what is set forth in a practice description or FAQ page. This is where a timely blog is effective for reporting important news and answering questions.
Examples of actual blog posts for mass tort clients are:
- Class Actions vs. Mass Torts: What’s the Difference?
- Brazil Bans Essure® Birth Control Device
- Jury Awards Talc User $70 Million
- Levaquin Users Face Risk of Nerve Damage
- IVC Filters Update
When a blogging strategy is executed the right way, it can make your law firm’s website rank higher in Google search results for relevant queries. Put another way, blogging is the most effective method of search engine optimization. By writing a blog and updating it regularly with relevant information, potential clients are much more likely to see your website in response to the questions they ask of search engines.
When blogging is done well, it has an exceptional return on investment.
Creating a Content Culture At Your Law Firm
Once the basics are in place, then you are ready to create a strategy, which entails creating a content marketing culture.
You must tie content marketing to new business goals and lead generation. The firm’s owners and partners must be active players, and they must devote enough time, budget and staff to content marketing. Alternatively, you can hire a ghostwriter to write your law firm’s website content for you.
There are some special considerations that have to be made when choosing a law firm ghostwriter, for both ethical and practical reasons. We recommend that you listen to our podcast on choosing a ghostwriter for your law firm website before you hire a person or company to complete this work for you.
Content planning and strategy is an important part of making content marketing work for your law firm. However, only 26 percent of law firms reported in a 2017 survey they had a documented content strategy.
To learn more about how to create an effective content plan, listen to our podcast: “Content Planning For Your Law Firm.”
The key elements of a content strategy for mass torts
The key elements of a content strategy include:
- Identifying your ideal potential clients.
- Creating a law firm client persona.
- Determining the geographic location of these clients.
- Spelling out what your potential clients need to know.
- Writing content to address those questions.
- Structuring your website to highlight the practice that you want to grow.
The more detail you put into your content plan and into what specific pages will look like, the easier it will be when it comes time to sit down and write.