Mass Tort Litigation vs. Class Action Lawsuits: Key Differences and Similarities

Mass tort litigation involves many plaintiffs filing separate lawsuits against the same defendants over the same issue. In contrast, class action lawsuits have one plaintiff representing a larger group. While mass torts focus on individual damages and liability, class actions seek to resolve the main legal issues for the whole group at once.

Despite differences, both allow groups of people to collectively take on powerful companies that cause harm. Achieving justice for many through combined legal action makes these powerful tools for consumers and victims seeking accountability.

Key Differences Between Mass Torts and Class Actions

Mass tort litigation typically involves plaintiffs with individualized injuries and damages, unlike class actions, where plaintiffs have a common complaint. In mass torts, each plaintiff retains their counsel and files their lawsuit. In contrast, class actions have one set of named plaintiffs and class counsel to represent the whole class.

While class actions aim to settle the entire dispute in one resolution, mass tort cases are often settled or litigated individually. Settlement funds in mass torts are distributed based on each plaintiff’s specific injuries and economic losses. Class action settlement funds are distributed evenly among class members.

Similarities Between Mass Tort Litigation and Class Actions

Both mass tort litigation and class action lawsuits allow groups of individuals who the same entity has harmed to seek justice collectively. This group approach has several advantages:

  • Pooling resources. By joining together, plaintiffs can share the high costs of litigation that they could not afford on their own.
  • Greater bargaining power. Groups have more leverage to negotiate with defendants and achieve better settlements than individuals.
  • Efficiency. Resolving many similar cases at once avoids duplicating efforts and saves time and money for both sides.
  • Consistency. Group litigation helps ensure similar cases are treated consistently and fairly, with comparable damages awards.
  • Public good. By holding companies accountable, these types of lawsuits can benefit the wider public through deterrence, promoting safety and responsible corporate conduct.

How to Determine If a Mass Tort or Class Action Is Appropriate

Should you pursue a mass tort or class action lawsuit? The answer depends on the specifics of your case. If many people have suffered similar harm or loss due to a defendant’s negligence or product defect, a mass tort may allow each claimant to pursue individual damages.

However, if there are too many claimants for individual suits or key issues of law or fact are common across all claims, a class action may be better to efficiently resolve them together.

class action lawsuits involve only one trial for all plaintiffs

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Each Type of Lawsuit

As with any legal options, both mass torts and class actions have pros and cons that should be weighed carefully. Here are some of the main benefits and drawbacks of each type of lawsuit:

Mass Tort Benefits

  • Individualized compensation – Awards are tailored to each plaintiff’s specific circumstances and claims. This can result in higher payouts for those with more severe injuries.
  • Flexibility – Cases proceed at each claimant’s own pace, allowing for differing needs and circumstances.
  • Privacy – Cases are handled individually, so claimants’ information is not shared as broadly.

Mass Tort Drawbacks

  • Higher costs – Fees must be paid for each case, driving up total expenses.
  • Slower process – Resolving many individual suits takes more time than group litigation.
  • Limited impact – Mass torts may not achieve the same broad deterrent effect as class actions.

Class Action Benefits

  • Economies of scale – Costs are distributed across the entire class, lowering the burden on each individual.
  • Faster resolution – Common issues are resolved for the entire class at once, speeding up the legal process.
  • Greater deterrence – Large damages awards send a strong signal to companies about unacceptable practices.

Class Action Drawbacks

  • Limited control – Individual claimants have less say over legal strategy and settlement terms.
  • Uneven compensation. Not all class members experience identical harm yet receive the same award.
  • Abuse potential – There have been instances where class actions did not adequately benefit class members.

Get in Touch With Our Class Action Attorneys If You Have More Questions!

Mass torts and class actions can be complex areas of law. If, after reading this guide, you still have unanswered questions about the differences between these types of lawsuits or whether you may be eligible to participate in an existing case, don’t hesitate to contact a class action lawyer for guidance.

At Class Action Lawsuit Lawyers, our experienced attorneys have handled many mass tort and class action cases. We’re here to listen to your concerns, evaluate your situation, and determine the best path forward so you can get the compensation you deserve. Call our firm today at 855-938-0980.