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Is my case a class action or mass tort?

A product has caused you injury, and you know you are not the only one to have received harm from it. However, you are unsure how to go about suing the responsible company. You first need to know the classification of your product liability case.

When a product has negatively affected numerous people, legal action can occur in two ways: a class action lawsuit or a mass tort. While they share similar qualities, they are two different approaches. Which one your attorney will use depends on the product and circumstances of your case.

Product liability

Class action and mass tort are for product liability cases. You are probably familiar with ones involving faulty auto parts, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and defective medical devices. However, cases can also include fraud, contract breaches, damage to the environment and unnatural disasters. The injury can be physical and/or financial.

Class action vs. mass tort

Both types are for pursuing compensation for a large group of people who have sustained physical or financial injury from a product or event. Class action entails filing only one suit for all known and potential victims, with usually one person representing the whole class of plaintiffs. It is common in cases where the harm was less severe, less costly and the same for all affected people. Monetary award is usually low due to the equal division of the damages among a large group of people and the lawyer.

Mass tort happens on an individual level and applies to more severe, costlier and individualized harm. For example, a specific prescription medicine may have caused side effects in thousands of people, but the type and extent differ for each person. Mass tort allows each person to seek compensation proportionate to the harm each received. This route usually leads to a large settlement. To obtain compensation, however, you must file your own lawsuit.

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