Class action lawsuits allow a group of people who have been hurt by a common party to file a lawsuit against that party with the goal of gaining compensation for their damages. Commonly, a class action lawsuit will allege fraud or a product defect. Very often, the lawyers for both sides will agree to a settlement before the case reaches a courtroom.
It is also common that the defendant is a large corporation. As an example, AT&T recently paid $45 million in damages after a group of customers complained that they had received automated phone calls for which they had not authorized.
Below are facts about class action lawsuits that you should know before you take part in one.
1. Who can participate in a class action lawsuit?
The law firm for the plaintiffs may announce that they are seeking additional affected people to join the lawsuit against the defendant, an individual can participate in a class action lawsuit without the request of a law firm if they meet the criteria. For instance, if you bought a car that has a hazardous manufacturing defect common for that particular make and model, you can join other owners and sue the manufacturer for their faulty product.
2. How much compensation can you expect from a class action lawsuit?
When a company is faced with numerous complaints about the same problem, they are likely to take the matter seriously, sit down with the complainants and agree to settle.
- The company may negotiate with the plaintiffs’ attorneys and agree to a settlement amount.
- The first thing that will be deducted are the legal fees of the law firm that was representing the class of plaintiffs.
- The remaining monies will be divided among all the individuals who were part of the suit. The more plaintiffs there are, the smaller the individual payouts.
The greatest satisfaction you might receive is the knowledge that you attained some degree of justice by holding the defendants responsible for their negligence.
3. How do you find out if you are eligible to participate in a class action lawsuit?
If you signed up to participate in a class action suit but have not been contacted, there are certain websites where you can check the details of the case. You can perform an online search using keywords that include the nature of the class action lawsuit and the name of the defendant. In this way you will often be able to find out how to join as a participant in the lawsuit or if the deadline has passed. You may also be able to opt out of the class action lawsuit if you were automatically included. However, if you opt out, you will not be eligible for compensation if the case is settled or the court issues an award to the plaintiffs.
If you would like to participate in a particular class action lawsuit, contact the plaintiffs’ attorney’s law office and request more information. If you would like to initiate a class action lawsuit that has not been started, contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the state where the defendant is based.