What is the Difference Between Class Actions and Mass Torts?
When a group of victims suffers physical or financial harm due to corporate negligence, they may file a class action or mass tort lawsuit to protect their rights.
You may have heard the term “class action lawsuit” before. But are you familiar with what is called a “mass tort?”
Both types of cases provide similar outcomes and are often confused, but each is handled very differently.
Class Action Lawsuits
A class action claim is a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people involved in a situation that resulted in damages and injuries. Class action claims help reduce the number of individual cases that must be filed when more than one person has been affected.
For example, if company A is accused of charging their customers too much for a product or service, a class action lawsuit will permit the courts to decide on all claims filed through a single claim. Oftentimes, these claims will bring about corporate change.
The following steps must be taken for a class action lawsuit to proceed:
- People in the class must be notified and given the chance to opt out and find their own representation
- A motion must be filed in court for the plaintiff to act on behalf of a group
- Plaintiff must show that their experience with the company or product is representative of the others involved in the lawsuit
- Plaintiff must also show that this type of lawsuit is ideal for holding defendants accountable and that individual lawsuits would not be as beneficial or cost-effective for all those involved
Furthermore, the compensation received by each individual involved must not be worth the time and costs of hiring an attorney for an individual case. Examples of class actions include lawsuits against tobacco companies, asbestos litigation, and Chevy Shake lawsuits.
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Mass Tort Lawsuits
Mass torts are actions brought on by a large group of people injured on a large scale against one or a few corporate defendants. Mass torts include mass disaster torts (such as the BP Oil Spill), mass toxic tort claims, and product liability torts.
Mass torts, like class action lawsuits, can be used to reduce the number of court cases brought by individuals. These cases permit an attorney or group of attorneys to represent individual victims. An attorney can use their investigation findings for all cases filed, and a nationwide network of attorneys can use their resources, findings, and ideals to certify that claimants are receiving fair settlements.
Mass torts are usually more complicated than class action lawsuits due to the way they are structured. Some examples of mass torts include lawsuits against manufacturers of defective drugs and manufacturers of defective products.
Knowing the difference between a class action and mass tort claim could help you, or a loved one, determine what legal rights you may have.