What is the Difference Between Mass Tort and Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Mass torts are exactly what they sound like: multiple injuries at once. Learn about how they differ from personal injury and class action lawsuits.

What is the Difference Between Mass Tort and Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Mass torts are exactly what they sound like: a lot of injuries at the same time. The terms “class action lawsuits” and “mass grievances” are often confused and interchanged; however, they are actually quite different. The term tort simply refers to an injury lawsuit.

Mass tort actions occur

when a lawyer files multiple lawsuits against the same defendant (or group of defendants) simultaneously.

The main difference between these two forms of lawsuits is the plaintiff's level of control over the case. Mass torts are closer to traditional injury lawsuits, in which each plaintiff is treated as an individual in the lawsuit. Class action lawsuits are generally broader than mass torts and include more plaintiffs. The trade-off in these cases is that each individual plaintiff has little participation in the management of the lawsuit.

A tort is any grievance committed against a person that causes injury or damage, and that can be tried in civil court. That sounds a lot like a personal injury, but the definition of tort is a little broader. While the term tort is broad, “personal injury” has a more limited definition. While personal injury is a type of tort, it generally only covers situations in which someone hurts you physically or emotionally, either intentionally or negligently.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident, you are likely to file a personal injury lawsuit, while if someone enters your property without authorization, you could file a land tort violation. Victims are treated as individuals in mass tort lawsuits, similar to personal injury cases. However, in class action lawsuits, each plaintiff is part of a large group of other victims who sue the same defendants. This makes class action lawsuits generally much larger than mass torts and involve many more legal teams.

For this reason, plaintiffs often have less control over class action lawsuits than over mass torts. The main difference between mass torts and class action lawsuits is the way the court treats plaintiffs. Rather than treating them as a single entity, the court considers mass tort plaintiffs as individuals, and the compensation each plaintiff receives will reflect their specific damages. Unlike a class action lawsuit, in mass torts, each plaintiff's case is treated as an individual case.

Unlike a car accident in which you were the only victim, or a multi-vehicle collision in which many people were at fault, a mass tort is a one-time action that harms many people. Mass torts can involve one or more defendants, and plaintiffs can seek compensation for similar physical or financial injuries that they all suffered as a result of the same event or events. When a variety of similar individual lawsuits involve substantially the same injuries or illnesses caused by the same negligence, courts may decide to combine these cases into a class tort lawsuit. Other potential plaintiffs have the option of excluding themselves from a class action lawsuit and instead seeking an individual mass tort lawsuit.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that all lawsuits, including class actions and mass tort cases, are governed by “statute of limitations”. In some cases, a class action for tort will be initiated when you do not meet the criteria for a class action. Find out if your case is better suited for a mass tort case or a class action lawsuit with a free consultation by calling 855-468-7626 or contact Sobo & Sobo online. The MDL can result in a collective agreement for tort, but if the case does not result in compensation, plaintiffs can seek compensation for damages through individual lawsuits.

While most mass tort actions target a company, these lawsuits could also name individuals or other corporate entities as defendants.