You have probably heard about class action lawsuits in the news. However, many people are unfamiliar with mass torts. When a group of people shares a common grievance against one or more defendants, understanding the difference between mass tort claims and class action lawsuits is important. Although both types of litigation involve similar grievances, they have different processes and outcomes.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit occurs when a group representing a more significant number of individuals’ interests files a lawsuit against the same defendant. The plaintiffs need to have a similar grievance against the defendant. The plaintiffs who file the lawsuit on behalf of the class, called the class representatives, pursue compensation for their injuries, typically against a large corporation. The interest of the class representatives reflects the interest of the entire group. The court will treat multiple class action plaintiffs as one entity instead of individuals pursuing individual claims.
Every individual who joins the class action lawsuit can opt out of the claim and pursue their lawsuit with their own attorney. The court must pass a motion before the class representatives can represent the entire group. The compensation in class action lawsuits can be small because the court will have to divide the settlement between many individuals. On the other hand, individuals can join together to pursue justice after being wronged.
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What are Mass Torts?
Mass tort claims involve multiple plaintiffs who file against one or more defendants in civil court. The plaintiffs all have similar grievances and suffered physical or financial injuries due to the defendant’s negligence. Mass tort cases are filed at the state or federal levels. The most important difference between class action lawsuits and mass tort claims is how the court treats plaintiffs. In mass tort cases, the court treats every plaintiff uniquely. Each plaintiff will receive compensation for their specific damages. In a class-action lawsuit, the settlement is divided equally between all plaintiffs.
For example, suppose a drug manufacturing company produced a drug with harmful side effects and did not adequately warn patients about the side effects. Plaintiff A may have suffered $300,000 in medical expenses because he needed a lengthy Hospital stay and surgery. Plaintiff B may have only suffered $50,000 in medical expenses.
If plaintiffs A and B join a mass tort action and succeed, plaintiff a will receive $300,000 in medical expenses plus any other eligible expenses. Plaintiff B will receive $50,000 in medical expenses and other qualifying expenses unique to his case. In a class action lawsuit, they may receive only $1,000 each because there are so many plaintiffs, and the settlement is divided equally between them.
Should I Pursue a Class Action Lawsuit or a Mass Tort Case?
If you are one of many plaintiffs who the same defective product has injured, you may be wondering what course of action we should take. It depends on the facts of your case. In a mass tort case, the plaintiffs do not have to receive class-action certification from the judge. It can be challenging to achieve certification because defendants need to show that the damages suffered by individual clients are too different to handle within a single case or that the desired relief does not apply to all class members.
In light of agreements that require individual people or classes to submit to binding arbitration, class-action certifications have become increasingly difficult. Class actions are just one type of mass tort litigation. If obtaining certification will be difficult in your case, pursuing a mass tort case may be more beneficial. Additionally, suppose you have suffered extensive losses due to significant medical expenses. In that case, pursuing your claim or a mass tort case may help you obtain all the compensation you need and deserve. Mass tort cases allow for more variability in the types and amount of damages awarded to plaintiffs than in class action lawsuits, but they also result in more lawsuits. Only one lawsuit needs to be filed in a class action lawsuit.
Contact a Mass Tort Attorney Today
You might be entitled to compensation if a drug or product injures you. The attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis provide potential clients with a free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.