Injury or damage cases usually involve two parties: the individual plaintiff and the person who is liable for whatever harm or suffering they have been through. There are times, however, when a problem is so severe or widespread that many people are all negatively impacted by it, such as in a disastrous accident or when an unsafe product is sold across multiple markets. In order to speed up the litigation process and attempt to get compensation for the injured or inconvenienced when they need it – sooner than later – a mass tort or a class action can be filed against the liable or negligent party.
Although mass torts and class actions are similar in the way that a great deal of people are represented, they are distinctly different. If you need to create or opt into a mass tort or class action, you will need to know the differences beforehand to avoid making a mistake and possibly jeopardizing your chance of receiving your fair share of a recovery.
CLASS ACTIONS VS. MASS TORTS
Class actions: Multiple afflicted parties – can be as low as a few dozen to as many as several thousand – are all represented together as one cohesive plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the liable party. There will be one trial fronted by one attorney or one team of attorneys, and the judge’s ruling will apply to everyone within the class action. If money is rewarded, it is split up equitably among the parties. In order to opt into a class action, a plaintiff must be suffering from the same or strikingly similar effects as other plaintiffs, and from the same verified source. An example of a class action would be the lawsuit that arises after a plane crash.
Mass torts: When multiple parties are affected by the same source but suffer differing injuries, illnesses, or inconveniences, a mass tort may be used. If a dangerous drug causes a wide range of negative side effects to a great number of people, such as chronic headaches to heart failure, a mass tort may be used. Unlike a class action, mass torts are often handled through numerous trials throughout the country, with each case – or tort – filed representing only one or a few plaintiffs. If one tort within the mass tort fails, it does not prevent other torts from pursuing compensation, as judges will rule on a case-by-case basis.
If you believe you have a mass tort or class action claim, you can contact The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez, Jr., PLLC. Our San Antonio personal injury attorneys are well-versed in both forms of wide scale litigation and will do everything in their power to get you the compensation you deserve. If you wait too long to report your injury or file your claim, you may be ineligible to opt into a mass tort or class action, so be sure to call (210) 529-8411 right away.