In common parlance, you would likely see the phrases “class action” and “mass torts” in interchangeable use. In fact, you would probably not find many people talking about mass torts at all.
The fact is that there are some similarities between these types of cases. They both deal with large groups of people who have similar injuries from the same source. However, there are also some key differences of which you should probably be aware if you believe you have an interest in one of these types of cases.
What is a mass tort?
As per FindLaw, mass tort cases occur when everyone in a large group of people has the same injury from the same source. Common examples of sources may include medical products or pharmaceutical products.
This is an important area of the law because it seeks to place responsibility on those who truly caused your unique injury. For example, you might be able to collect damages from the pharmaceutical company that developed a dangerous medication rather than from the medical practitioner who prescribed that medication.
What is a class action?
Class-action lawsuits are very similar to mass torts. However, they differ in the essential idea that you would be part of a class. “Class” is a legal term here. It essentially refers to a group of people who share a specific attribute.
In the case of a class action lawsuit, your class would include yourself and many other people who share your injury. Since you are all equal members of a large class, you would probably each have a more passive role in litigation.
How do the two differ?
These are both types of cases that empower individuals to band together and seek justice against large, powerful organizations. If you are bringing a claim, the main difference between class action and mass tort would be the way the court treats your case. In a class action, everyone who had your injury would be part of the same class of injured people. In a mass tort case, you would be one of many people bringing an individual claim.
This factor would probably make a difference in the complexity of your case and the amount of time it could take you to get compensation for your injuries. You might also collect damages in proportion to the extent of your injuries rather than as a percentage share of the settlement or award distributed across your entire class.