Class Action Lawsuits Increase the Efficiency of the Legal Process
August 8, 2019
In a class action, the plaintiff seeks court approval to litigate on the behalf of a group of similarly situated individuals. When more than one person needs to bring a claim against the same company for the same source of injury or damage, it is called a "class action lawsuit". Class actions can aggregate a large number of individualized claims into a single lawsuit representative of a group's collective actions. These lawsuits differ from a standard personal injury lawsuit where an attorney brings a case against a defendant and all of the compensation awarded goes to that plaintiff. Although most class action lawsuits are seeking millions of dollars in restitution, each person's compensation may not have been worth their time or money to pursue individually.
To file a class action lawsuit, the court will consider the details of the case being presented by the lead plaintiff against the defendant. Since most class action lawsuits are "opt out", participants do not need to do anything to join and are automatically included unless they choose not to join-in. Most courts are far more likely to deny class action status if less than 20 plaintiffs exist. Each class action case is different and, where one claim may be resolved quickly, others can years. Cases with an extremely large number of plaintiffs may be adjudicated as "Mass Tort Litigation". Contrary to popular belief, most of the money in a class action settlement goes directly to the injured plaintiffs and the attorneys are paid a small percentage of the money recovered on behalf of the class members.
Whether a class action suit is superior to pursuing individual litigation depends upon the details of the claim and is determined by the judge's ruling on a motion for class designation. After electing to join a class action lawsuit, a member of a class cannot file a personal lawsuit if the court rules in favor of the defendant. Mass tort litigation, on the other hand, does not impede individual claimants from seeking justice separately. Nonetheless, most class action suits settle before going to court. Due process requires that notices describing the class action be published or broadcast to class members. This includes notices for settlement proposals informing each member of the details of the settlement agreement.
Participating in a class action lawsuit is an important and valuable step to protecting your rights through the fair and efficient resolution of legitimate claims made on behalf of numerous parties. If you or a loved one were injured due to a defective product, unreasonable actions, or gross negligence, contact a personal injury attorney at Schackow & Mercadante to discuss the details of your potential claim.