Class Action vs Mass Tort Lawsuits: What’s the Difference?

Class Action vs Mass Tort Lawsuits: What’s the Difference?

Mar 22, 2024 | Malpractice Lawyer, Personal Injury

Class action lawsuits are massive cases involving multiple plaintiffs and huge settlements (if the plaintiffs win). The largest class action settlement in US history was for $206 billion! Because there are numerous plaintiffs, it’s easy to think that mass torts and class action lawsuits are the same, but there are differences.

Understanding class action vs mass tort cases can help you choose which procedure to opt into. Read our quick guide to learn more about these two types of proceedings.

Class Action Lawsuits and Their Requirements

Class action lawsuits occur when a large group of plaintiffs suffer the same damage from the same defendant. Class actions are cost-effective ways of getting relief for the plaintiffs, but filing a class action is difficult.

First, the group of injury victims (for example) has to be big enough. The class (meaning the group of plaintiffs) has to be so big that pursuing the matter in a set of smaller suits is logistically arduous or impossible.

Second, all the plaintiffs must have suffered identical or sufficiently similar harm. For example, if everyone using the same hair dryer suffered the same burn.

Last, the main legal problems that give rise to the claim must be the same for every plaintiff. If your case turns on a different legal issue than the representative plaintiff’s, you can’t be part of the class.

It’s quite rare that a potential suit satisfies all these threshold criteria. That’s why the law allows other methods of consolidating lawsuits.

Mass Torts and Their Requirements

Mass tort cases are more straightforward to file because they allow more variation between the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs don’t need congruent cases to form the larger group; they only need to have a common defendant and similar claims.

Each case gets judged individually in a mass tort, unlike one blanket judgment being handed down in a class action suit. This allows mass tort settlement amounts to vary far more than in class action suits.

Class Action vs Mass Tort: Pros and Cons

Both types of lawsuits allow plaintiffs to combine their resources. This makes it easier to seek relief. Since everyone (usually) works with the same mass tort lawyers, there are also fewer administrative costs.

However, class actions cost less per plaintiff than mass torts. On the other hand, a plaintiff has more control over their individual case in a mass tort.

You must consult a competent attorney before you choose between the class action and mass tort routes. Both have unique advantages and disadvantages, and either could work for you under the right circumstances.

Get Expert Legal Advice

When a large group of people suffer similar injuries under similar conditions, they can combine their cases into a class action or a mass tort lawsuit. Though they have similar benefits, class actions are different from mass torts.

Joining a class in a class action suit is much harder. You also have less control over the case and are bound with every other class member by the judgment.

If you qualify for both, weighing the class action vs mass tort route is a serious legal decision. Contact Barnes Law Firm today for industry-leading legal advice in your DBA injury claim.