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What is the difference between a class action and a mass tort?

Many of our readers have likely heard of a class action lawsuit, A class action lawsuit is when several people who have the same or similar type of injuries, losses or damages sue a defendant as a group.

Mass torts are similar, except these lawsuits are filed separately when there is enough difference in the type of injuries, losses or damages to keep the plaintiffs from filing as a group. These are also often referred to as multi-district litigation. Mass torts are based upon a massive accident, such as when an airplane crashes. A mass tort could also be brought when there are widespread personal injuries due to a medical device.

Class action lawsuits are used by people to seek justice when they have been injured because of a defective product. That product might be a motor vehicle, a pharmaceutical or a toy. Other class actions are brought by a group of people who have been harmed in other ways, such as from corporate misconduct, consumer fraud, fraudulent employment practices or securities fraud.

There are many different examples of class action lawsuits. The class or group of plaintiffs could be the residents of a neighborhood who suffered injury due to a toxic spill. It could be a group of corporate investors who were victims of fraud when they purchased or sold stocks.

Class members are given the option to "opt out," in most cases. this means that the injured parties don't have to be members of the lawsuit. This type of lawsuit requires an incredible amount of research and it's up to your attorney to prove that the defendant's product or actions harmed those included in the group.

If you believe that you have suffered injury, illness or loss because of a defendant named in a class action, then the advice of an attorney will benefit you.

Source: FindLaw, "Class Action Cases," accessed April 22, 2016

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