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The Cochran Firm - Dallas

We’ve all been in a situation where we feel that we are getting a raw deal by a defective product or bungled service, but when a service, product, or tragic event causes injury, death, or other types of harm, like financial losses, civil lawsuits may be filed. These lawsuits hold a business, entity, and/or individual accountable for their negligence or lack of action that caused or contributed to what happened. 

When numerous people face the same or similar issues, navigating the numerous individual lawsuits would be overwhelming for the courts and unnecessarily costly for the parties involved. That’s where the heroes—mass torts and class action lawsuits—come into play to streamline the process. 

Mass torts and class actions are often thought of as the same legal proceeding, but they’re not. There are definite similarities between the two but also distinct and important differences. 

When you’re one of many people who suffered due to a similar situation, such as a defective product or dangerous drug, understanding all of the legal options available helps you make the best decision for how to proceed. A lawyer with experience handling mass torts and class action lawsuits can provide invaluable guidance and recommendations. 

At The Cochran Firm in Texas, our legal team has stood alongside those affected by these shared harms. We’ve advocated for numerous individuals facing similar hardships, ensuring their voices are heard through the complex legal process.   

Based on our extensive experience, we’ve outlined what a class action versus mass torts is and why consulting with an attorney to protect your rights is vital. 

How Are Mass Torts and Class Actions Different? 

In order to understand the differences, we first need to address the similarities between mass torts and class actions. The most significant similarity is that both serve a multitude of individuals facing similar issues—such as defective products or environmental hazards. Another similarity between mass torts and class action claims is that they both save resources through shared information and streamlined discovery, which benefit everyone who has filed a lawsuit.  

Common types of mass torts include dangerous or defective products, catastrophes (ex, a plane crash), toxic exposure, and defective or dangerous medications or medical devices. Sometimes, these types of cases become class action lawsuits, but there are additional types of class actions worth noting: violations of consumer protections, securities, or employment law.  

Now that we’ve covered the basic commonalities let’s unravel the legal intricacies and decipher the differences between these legal mechanisms. In a class action, the group of people harmed by the defendant are combined into one lawsuit – they become a single entity. One or a few class representatives who are highly involved in the proceedings are selected, and the outcome applies to everyone in the class. Keep in mind – in order to be a class action, a court must certify the class. However, in a mass tort, each plaintiff has their own case with their own individual outcomes. Since individual plaintiffs still exist, resolutions, including settlements, differ from a class resolution, too.  

Once a class action settlement is reached or an award is granted, it’s divided among those involved. However, class representatives receive a greater portion than the rest of the class, and attorney fees are also paid through the settlement. 

While plaintiffs are grouped together in a mass tort to streamline part of the legal process, settlements are not split among the group. Instead, any settlements are based on the individual case and injuries, not the group as a whole. If a plaintiff in a mass tort declines a settlement offer or one isn’t made, they may choose to proceed with a lawsuit.  

Mass torts give plaintiffs more control over their case, but they’re not necessarily better than class actions. For every personal injury, death, or financial loss, the legal route that’s taken should be based on what’s best for the victim. 

How Do MDLs Affect Mass Torts? 

In many cases involving numerous plaintiffs suing a defendant for the same thing, the mass tort is consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). It can streamline the legal process by merging the discovery phase, depositions, and other pre-trial steps before a single judge for the benefit of all plaintiffs. Resources are further pooled, and bellwether trials in the MDL show the evidence and possible outcomes and can influence settlement.  

Currently, chemical hair relaxer lawsuits have been consolidated into a MDL, which was created after an influx of women filed lawsuits for certain gynecological cancers after using hair relaxers and straighteners. As the count of women joining the MDL grows, so too does the research showing how dangerous hair relaxer products are and the devastating health effects they’ve had on countless women. 

How a Mass Torts and Class Action Lawyer Can Help 

When you’re one of many potential plaintiffs who have been physically or financially harmed under the same or similar circumstances, having the right legal representation – an attorney with experience in mass torts and class actions – can ensure you’re properly compensated, and your rights are protected. A lawyer can help hold the responsible party accountable for their actions or inaction while pushing for change to prevent others from being harmed. 

The process of these cases is complicated, and not every lawyer has the skills and expertise to handle a mass tort or class action lawsuit. At the Cochran Firm, our lawyers are currently representing plaintiffs who developed serious personal injuries, including uterine cancer, from using chemical hair straighteners. Having attorneys on your side with experience handling large-scale cases gives you the best chance at justice and fair compensation. 

If you were harmed by a product or medication, in a catastrophic event, or by toxic exposure, there may be other people in the same situation. And if you know a class action lawsuit has been filed for something you also experienced, getting legal advice as soon as possible is essential. 

Contact our class action and mass torts lawyers online or at 1-866-892-6148 for a free consultation. 

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