October 11, 2022

Mass Tort vs. Class Action


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You may be familiar with significant cases that involve hundreds or thousands of people against large companies that result in million-dollar settlements. These cases are often class action claims made by people with similar injuries.

However, another type of claim can involve a single defendant called a mass tort. Understanding the difference helps you know which type of lawsuit might benefit your claim.

What Is a Mass Tort Claim?

A mass tort claim is a group of lawsuits filed by many people individually. These lawsuits are generally related to personal injuries where people have been harmed due to defective or dangerous products. These claims hold large companies liable for injuries suffered by the public.

In a mass tort claim, plaintiffs can all use similar evidence against the defendants; however, they prove their damages separately. This reduces legal fees and discovery costs while maximizing compensation for each plaintiff.

When Would Someone File a Mass Tort Claim?

Mass tort litigation involves each plaintiff (person who was harmed) filing an individual lawsuit against the company because they have unique injuries.

Those injuries would be so different than those suffered by others that they deserve an independent consideration of compensation. In many cases, a person can obtain a greater amount of compensation when they conduct an individual lawsuit in a mass tort claim. Defective products, health code violations, and foodborne illnesses are some examples of mass tort claims.

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action is another lawsuit involving multiple plaintiffs and one defendant. However, in these claims, the plaintiffs join in filing one lawsuit and seek a single settlement or jury verdict that will be split between the plaintiffs.

Class actions benefit plaintiffs because they put pressure on the defendant. Defendants facing class action lawsuits are often ready to settle the case and do away with the large claim.

Plaintiffs in class actions pool resources with the same law firm to pay for legal fees and costs and to obtain a larger settlement.

When Would a Class Action Lawsuit Apply?

A court must approve class action lawsuits. Multiple plaintiffs cannot file a class action without first having it approved.

A class action must involve many people with similar injuries and damages. Otherwise, the compensation obtained would not be fair to everyone involved. You might consider a class action suit in situations involving unsafe drugs, unfair business practices, or victims of fraud, among other cases.

A class action is beneficial when plaintiffs cannot afford legal counsel or do not wish to participate directly in a case. Additionally, if an injured person wants to file their claim, they may opt out of the class action in some circumstances. There are deadlines to opt out of a class action.

How Are Class Actions Different Than Mass Torts?

Some of the differences between class actions and mass torts include the following:

  • Mass torts result in individual recoveries for each plaintiff, whereas class actions get one large settlement split among plaintiffs.
  • One law firm represents everyone in a class action, while multiple firms may be involved in mass tort claims.
  • A plaintiff may get a more significant recovery in a mass tort claim; however, they will also have more legal costs.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Understand Your Options

If you have suffered harm similar to that of many other people, you could join a class action or file a mass tort claim. You have options to consider when approaching your case. You should consult a personal injury lawyer who can review your injuries and help you move forward.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online for a consultation.

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