What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
It’s not that difficult to define a class action lawsuit. In a nutshell, it’s where a group of people who have suffered either the same or similar harm join forces to sue the party they allege caused that harm. Class action lawsuit examples include defective products, harmful medications, employment practices and many others.
What’s the Reason for a Class Action Lawsuit?
A lot of times, the harm suffered by plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit is relatively minor. As a result, it wouldn’t be worth it for each person to take legal action on his or her own. But when the people who have been harmed join together, that can substantially increase the value of their collective claim.
If a large number of people suffer an injury of some kind and they all take action against the same defendant, it would sometimes be impossible for them to all file individual lawsuits. Imagine if 3 million people were in car wrecks due to defective brakes. There is no way that the court system could handle 3 million individual lawsuits.
There are a lot of class action lawsuit examples, of course. Here are just a few of them:
- Residents of a housing development suffer property damage due to a toxic spill caused by a negligent company.
- Customers are hurt because of a defective product.
- Corporate investors lose money due to fraud perpetrated by a securities company.
- Patients suffer injury because of a dangerous drug.
- Employees feel they’ve been discriminated against or haven’t been properly paid the overtime wages to which they’re entitled.
How to Participate in a Class Action Lawsuit
Many times, a law firm that’s handling a class action lawsuit will contact prospective members of the “class,” or the people who may have been harmed by a person or company that is the target of the suit. The court overseeing the case will order that the attorneys representing the “class representative,” or the person who initiated the lawsuit, make a reasonable attempt to notify other potential class members.
If you receive such a notification, you will have two options. You can “opt in” and join the lawsuit or you can “opt out” and not take action. There are, however, some relatively rare instances where an individual won’t be able to opt out.
The majority of class action lawsuits never get to the trial stage because they’re settled out of court. When this happens, the settlement goes to the judge presiding over the case, who will then deny it or approve it. If the settlement is approved, the members of the class will be notified regarding how to make their claim for compensation.
When plaintiffs win, they usually don’t have to pay any lawyers’ fees or other litigation costs. The reason is that the defendant usually has to pay those costs.
How Can You Benefit From Joining a Class Action Lawsuit?
There are several potential advantages to taking part in a class action lawsuit. Class actions are a lot less expensive than filing individual suits and they are typically initiated by lawyers who have a great deal of experience in this complex type of litigation. If the plaintiffs win, they are all guaranteed to receive some sort of compensation. Otherwise, plaintiffs would only obtain compensation on a first come, first served basis. If they’re at the end of the line, they might not get anything.
Irpino, Avin & Hawkins is New Orleans’ leading office for class action lawsuits. We have the resources and experience needed to make sure companies that harm people are held accountable for their actions. Contact us online or call 800-7500-LAW to learn more.