Often we hear about class action lawsuits on the news or ads on TV calling for those affected by a defective product to contact a lawyer to join a class action lawsuit. But what many people don’t realize is that there are actually two, major kinds of class action lawsuits.

The first kind is simply a class action lawsuit. This is probably the kind you’re familiar with. In a class action lawsuit, a lawsuit is filed on behalf of an entire group of people who share a set of unfortunate circumstances, damages and injuries. This type of action reduces the number of court cases that arise when many people are harmed by the same problem.

The second kind is known as a mass tort lawsuit. Mass tort lawsuits also deal with the cases of many people affected by a similar problem or situation; however, there tends to be more variation or complexity to the separate cases. Rather than filing a single lawsuit to cover many cases, a single attorney or group of attorneys, are allowed to represent each case individually. The cases are brought before the same judge. Using the same key players allows for each case to be viewed individually, while those involved become experts, understanding the precedents set by earlier cases and being able to distinguish variation.

With class action lawsuits, you would have to be able to prove that your situation is typical for what others have experienced when dealing with a company or product. There’s no need for this with a mass tort lawsuit as your case would be handled on an individual basis. Because of this, however, mass torts tend to be more complicated than a class action lawsuit, and will likely take much longer to settle.

If you have any questions about dealing with a class action or mass tort lawsuit, be sure to contact an experienced attorney.