What Is the Difference Between Mass Tort and Class Action Lawsuits?

May 16 2022 | Blog
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    The terms ‘class action lawsuits’ and ‘mass torts’ are often confused and interchanged; however, they are actually quite different. Tort refers simply to an injury claim. Mass torts are exactly what they sound like – a lot of injuries at the same time. Mass tort actions are when an attorney brings multiple lawsuits against the same defendant (or group of defendants) simultaneously.

    Class actions, on the other hand, are multiple injury victims, or plaintiffs, grouped together in one lawsuit. The main difference is the level of control of the injured party in the case.

    There are, of course, procedural differences between the two, but let’s talk about the things that actually impact you and your claim.

    Class Actions

    Typically, a class-action lawsuit is an organized group of people who suffered similar injuries and therefore have similar claims. The claim is controlled by what is referred to as a ‘Representative Plaintiff.’

    A Representative Plaintiff is chosen in order to facilitate and bring a group of claims with one injured party who is believed to represent every other victim. The class representative’s case will essentially be the same case made on behalf of the entire class of victims.

    Class Action Certification

    Once a class is ‘certified,’ which is when a judge or court states that this is a class of people who were all similarly harmed by a similar situation, each individual who is a member of the class becomes a member of the class-action lawsuit, whether they like it or not. Members of the class are all individuals that the court ruled as injured by the defendant. The class is certified by either a state or federal court, and the only way to not be a part of the class action is to “opt out.”

    So what is ‘opting out,’ and why would an injury victim not want to be a part of the lawsuit? Well, if you have ever received a very small check from your credit card company, then you likely were a member of a class action. The amount of that check is a good reason why you would wish to “opt-out.”

    Mass Torts

    When lawyers refer to ‘Mass Torts,’ they are referring to the same underlying situation as a class action lawsuit – namely, a large group of individuals hurt in a similar manner by a common defendant.

    The differences, however, are quite striking. In mass torts, a large group of individuals is harmed by a common defendant. However, in class action, the injured parties choose to opt out of the class and instead bring their claims themselves against the defendant. But why?

    Benefits of Mass Tort Lawsuits and Individual Lawsuits that Class Members Do Not Share

    A class representative doesn’t always best represent YOU when YOU’VE been injured. The class doesn’t always adequately protect YOUR interests. Put simply, do you really want your claim being brought by someone who is not you?

    Opting Out

    Opting out of the class action lawsuit allows you to retain your own legal counsel to advance your own claim.

    Mass torts generally involve multidistrict litigation. Basically, the Plaintiffs, or injured parties, do not all live in the same governmental district. Due to that, the claims must be brought in many different locations. So why do these claims get grouped together in a Mass Tort?

    Benefits of Mass Tort Lawsuits

    Experienced attorneys handling mass tort litigation will often utilize what economists refer to as ‘Economies of Scale.’ This term sounds complicated, but it is basically the same principle as buying in bulk.

    When one law firm represents many opted-out individuals in similar lawsuits, the attorneys are able to gather scientific and legal evidence in a more efficient manner. The nature of the claims ensures that the evidence gathered regarding the mechanism or cause of the injury and the knowledge of the defendant – usually a large company – and the likelihood of those injuries is consistent from one claim to another.

    What Can Hiring Your Own Attorney Do for Your Claim?

    An experienced attorney can gather the evidence in a way that saves the client money. In addition, the attorney can also focus on each individual’s physical injuries and other damages rather than on a different individual with the same grievance. As we have already established, your injuries are your injuries, and someone else’s injuries are their injuries.

    You need an attorney to represent you for your claim – on its own merits. Your law firm’s ability to handle these claims on a large scale, particularly against large and powerful corporations, can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim.

    This individual representation also helps to solidify one of the most important components of a legal claim – the attorney-client relationship.

    What Types of Cases Involve Mass Torts and Class Actions?

    Many different types of claims can involve mass tort or class action lawsuits. A defective medical device, a defective product, prescription medication injuries, or essentially anything that a large group of people would use similarly and could cause an injury can all be the basis for a class-action lawsuit or a mass tort.

    Some of the most famous examples of these are black lung and coal mining lawsuits, tobacco lawsuits, bad medical devices, and automobile defects. Recently there has been a wave of injuries resulting from contaminated baby formula.

    Why Call an Attorney?

    If you have been injured by a corporation’s bad practices or products, you may already be a part of a class-action lawsuit. Call an experienced mass tort lawyer to determine the proper course of action. You may be able to opt-out and pursue your own claim on your own terms.

    If you have questions about your individual case, the litigation process, or believe that you may have the right to participate in a mass tort case, call our law firm today.

    What are the Risks?

    If you call us, there is always a free consultation. Our legal services team ensures that your claim is handled promptly and evidence is adequately preserved in order to increase the likelihood of favorable future results.

    It is also important to understand that hiring an attorney for your mass tort claim can ensure that your claim is handled correctly, following any state or federal rules, abiding by the rules of civil procedure, and that you adhere to all relevant legal criteria.

    Things to Remember

    It is important to remember that no lawyer can guarantee a specific result, and not all similar claims result in similar outcomes. You should thoroughly research the law firm you choose to hire. Court cases are sometimes long, arduous processes that can be mentally and emotionally draining. An attorney can help alleviate many of these stressors from the individual plaintiffs when they bring their expertise to the table.

    Time to File

    One other important thing to realize is that all claims, including any class action suit and mass tort cases, are governed by ‘Statutes of Limitations.’ This means there are specific time frames past which a claim cannot be brought against the defendant or at fault party. Calling sooner is always better than being too late. Call now!

    Who We Are

    Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers is a personal injury law firm with a team of lawyers and mass tort attorneys ready to fight for you. Our firm has years of experience in handling mass tort claims and multi-district litigation for multiple Plaintiffs. Our phone number is 800-800-4600. In Kentucky, wee are located in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville, and Lexington. In Tennessee, we have offices in Nashville, Clarksville, Columbia, Gallatin, and Murfreesboro.

    The call is free, the case review is free, and we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you.

    Control Starts with a Call – Call now for a free case evaluation!

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