The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product manufacturers frequently recall dangerous or defective drug and medical devices. Patients who suffer harm often join class-action lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence.
How do individual lawsuits differ from class-action ones?
Mass torts lawsuits, which is another name for class-action lawsuits, function differently from individual lawsuits.
Individual plaintiffs would generally file a lawsuit against a product’s manufacturer if they alleged that their production of defective products or fraud resulted in them suffering harm. There are significant court costs and attorney’s fees associated with litigating such a case, though. It’s not uncommon for multiple plaintiffs who suffered adverse impacts from taking a medication or receiving a defective medical device to join forces and take on manufacturers collectively as part of a class-action lawsuit.
The splitting up of class-action litigation costs (and winnings)
Most class-action lawsuits do not make it into a courtroom, but instead, end up settling before they go to trial. The attorneys representing you invest significant labor and financial resources in negotiating pre-trial settlements to avoid taking their chances when trying a case in a courtroom.
It’s not uncommon for mass torts cases to end up in multimillion-dollar settlements. A significant portion of those winnings goes to attorney’s fees or court costs. What’s left is split among the individual litigants.
Why joining a class-action lawsuit isn’t ideal for everyone
Individuals who may find it most appropriate to join a mass torts actions suffered perhaps less severe adverse outcomes than other potential litigants. These individuals generally wouldn’t be able to pursue costly litigation on their own without participation in a class-action lawsuit.
Anyone who has suffered significant harm may benefit from suing a manufacturer in their individual capacity if they wish to recover more appropriate damages for the severity of their injuries.
Litigants must keep in mind that government officials may tax any winnings they receive as taxable income, affecting their ability to receive welfare benefits.
Whether or not you should join a class-action lawsuit is contingent upon various factors that may go beyond the severity of your injuries. An attorney will want to know more about how the dangerous drug or defective medical device affected your health before giving you any advice about what type of litigation you may want to pursue.