By: Claims Attorney
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Class Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits provide much-needed legal relief to large groups of individuals who were wronged by the same corporation’s product or actions and suffered similar losses as a result. A class action lawsuit is typically filed by only one person or party, but there may be hundreds or even thousands of people covered by the lawsuit and any settlement or judgment resulting from the lawsuit. Class actions are appropriate in cases where the losses claimed by each plaintiff for a defective product, false advertising, unlawful employment practices, discrimination or some other wrong are too small to make individual legal claims worthwhile. If you and others have suffered the same wrong at the hands of a large corporation, government entity, manufacturer, financial institution, employer or retailer, you may be able to obtain restitution through a class action lawsuit. There is a statute of limitations on class actions, so do not wait to file a claim. Contact our reputable legal team today to learn more about pursuing compensation through a class action lawsuit.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a specific type of lawsuit in which one or several individuals sue on behalf of a larger group of individuals, known as the “class.” The legal issues raised in class action lawsuits can vary widely and may involve anything from defective drugs or medical devices to dangerous consumer products, fraud, illegal conduct or deceptive practices. However, there are two elements that are almost always present in a class action:
- The members of the class all suffered the same or similar injuries as a result of the defendant’s actions, and
- There are so many affected individuals that it would be impractical to bring individual lawsuits before the court.
The class members covered by a class action lawsuit may be determined on a nationwide or state-wide basis, depending on the circumstances of the case. In some class actions, only individuals who live in the same state as the lead plaintiff (the person who initiated the lawsuit) are represented in the lawsuit. Generally, class members are notified by mail once the class has been certified by the court and are automatically included in the lawsuit unless they choose to opt out.
How Does a Class Action Work?
In a typical class action, a representative plaintiff sues one or more defendants on behalf of the class, rather than each injured person filing his or her own lawsuit against the same defendant(s) for the same or similar injuries. This allows for the legal claims of all class members – even class members who do not know they have suffered damages – to be resolved in a single legal proceeding involving the representative plaintiff(s) and class counsel. Some examples of class actions include legal claims by:
- Consumers who purchased the same defective or dangerous product
- Consumers who were misled by the same false advertising
- Homeowners or business owners affected by an environmental disaster, such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
- Employees subjected to illegal discrimination by their corporate employer
- Patients prescribed a medication with severe side effects that the drug maker was aware of and failed to disclose
Benefits of Class Actions
There are a number of benefits to class actions compared to individually filed lawsuits that raise similar legal claims. Compared to individual claims, class actions can help reduce the expenses associated with litigation, since the entire class is represented collectively by a member of the class. For individuals within a large group of people who were harmed by the same defective product or fraudulent act and suffered only limited damages, the cost of filing a separate lawsuit could be greater than the value of their individual claim. The total damages awarded to the class, however, could be more substantial.
Defendants in class action lawsuits are often large companies or multimillion-dollar corporations with a great deal of money and power. Class actions allow individuals to unite with one another and stand up to these powerful companies and their formidable legal teams as a group of similarly harmed people and recoup the damages they deserve for the collective harm they have suffered. In fact, a class action is often the only way for individuals to make a public statement, remedy an injustice committed by a large corporation and convince the company to change its ways. As former United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once said, “The class action is one of the few legal remedies the small claimant has against those who command the status quo.”
When a group of people have suffered similar harm from a company’s illegal conduct, defective product or deceptive practice, a class action can provide an effective legal remedy for the entire class without incurring the costs of thousands of individual legal claims. It can also eliminate the risk of the courts making inconsistent decisions on similar claims against the same defendant. Many class actions settle before going to trial, in which case a fund may be set up by the defendant to compensate affected members of the class. If the class action goes to trial, a jury will be responsible for deciding in favor of the class members or the defendants.
Pursuing Compensation Through a Class Action
Class action lawsuits are designed to hold companies accountable for their dangerous products or for deceiving or misleading consumers and when a class action settles, the members of the class are entitled to a percentage of the settlement. Many class actions start out with complaints brought by one or a handful of individuals raising similar allegations of harm suffered at the hands of the same defendant(s). If you have been injured by a defective product or suffered harm because of a scam, fraud, environmental hazard or employment issue, you may be entitled to compensation through a class action lawsuit. Our knowledgeable class action attorneys have years of experience standing up for the rights of individuals in class actions and we can help you, too. Contact our firm today to find out if you are eligible to initiate or join a class action lawsuit.