Class Action Lawsuits Vs. Personal Litigation In Product Liability Cases Involving Medication: The Pros And Cons Of Both

Medical and scientific advancements in the health care industry have benefited Americans greatly. From 1990 to 2008, prescription drug expenses increased from $40 billion to $234 billion, and almost 50% of all Americans take at least one type of prescription medication on a daily basis. Pharmaceutical companies have a legal duty to provide safe medication accompanied with accurate information regarding side effects and function. Failure to do so may result in product liability cases. Victims of pharmaceutical negligence are entitled to opt in to class action lawsuits or opt for a personal litigation.

The Silver Lining and Disadvantages of Class Action Lawsuits

Personal injury attorneys representing a large group of consumers who fell victim to the medication will file a class action lawsuit. In a class action lawsuit, the attorneys look at the group as a whole, and will seek compensation for everyone. Filing a claim with everyone else in the same boat comes with many silver linings.

Class action lawsuits are able to ease up on the amount of workload that may drag on in court, and members of class action lawsuits generally pay reduced legal fees. Members are also not held as responsible for the legalities of the case, and can get away with simply "opting in" to the class, and providing evidence of the damages and injuries that they have been subjected to as a result of taking the medication.

Although simple and easy, members of class action lawsuits generally will have no control over how the lawsuit is handled by the attorney. The attorney will act in the best interest for the group as a whole, and those who are considered to be "minorities" in the case may not benefit as much.

Opting Out of Class Action Lawsuits for Personal Litigation

The side effects of the medication may have varying effects on patients. Some patients with other underlying medication conditions may suffer from more extreme side effects or permanent injuries, as a result of pharmaceutical negligence. Victims, who have suffered considerably more than others, should highly consider opting out of the class action lawsuit for personal litigation instead.

When a class action lawsuit is filed, those who are affected will generally receive a notice sent from the attorney involved. At this point, individuals have the option of either opting in or opting out. In some cases, a notice may not be sent out, and those affected will be notified when they attempt to file a personal litigation case.

By opting out of a class action lawsuit, victims of pharmaceutical negligence will not enjoy the legal services provided by the attorney chosen to represent the masses, and will need to find their own attorney. By choosing to file a personal litigation case, the victims are able to have their case heard separately, and will receive a different verdict. Many people do choose to opt out of a class action lawsuit. More often than not, it is due to the following reasons:

  • They do not have any confidence in the attorney that has been chosen to represent.
  • Their situation may be quite different from the rest, or they may have been subjected to more serious side effects or injuries that entitle them to more compensation.


Generally speaking, victims who have suffered from minor injuries or side effects will typically opt to participate in a class action lawsuit to reduce their legal expenses and to receive compensation without taking an active role in the case. Those who prefer to file for personal litigation generally have unique circumstances involved with their experience, and believe that they are entitled to more compensation as a result. Those who are unsure of which option may be best should speak to an attorney at a firm like Breslin & Breslin/lawyers to discuss the unique circumstances of their case.