When a standard personal injury claim is filed, it typically only involves one person who believes they were injured because of someone else’s negligence. If, however, multiple people experienced the same or similar harm against a corporation or other entities, that group has the right to pursue a class action lawsuit.
Class actions most often derive out of situations involving defective products and dangerous medications. If you’ve been injured in a situation like that, you may be able to take part in a class action. In order to understand how class actions are started, let’s take a look at how these types of lawsuits are defined, what the filing requirements are, and what the overall process looks like.
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuits are the best option for taking legal action against who or multiple defendants who contributed to the injuries of many potential plaintiffs. Depending on the situation, one or multiple lawsuits can file the suit and pursue litigation. Potential members of the class are generally contacted or notified of the lawsuit. They have the option to opt-out of the class action or learn how to receive their share of compensation in the event of a settlement or favorable verdict.
If a defendant settles the class action or losses at trial, the participating plaintiffs are given a percentage of the total compensation. This is assuming they can demonstrate they were harmed by the defendant’s actions.
In some instances, more creative solutions can come out of a class action settlement—particularly in the event of a non-injury case. This often happens in situations where companies were found to be secretly inflating prices, so they give away products to make up for that inflation.
The Requirements for a Class Action Lawsuit
While any attorney can help a plaintiff file a class action, it’s a judge who officially decides whether a case can proceed as a class action. There are a number of factors a judge will take into consideration before making their determination. Those factors include:
- The number of people affected. Most class actions involve a large number of people who have been harmed by the actions of a negligent company. If only a small handful of people were injured, a judge could decide that those people should file individual lawsuits.
- How the potential plaintiffs were injured. All class members have to have suffered the same injury. The lawsuit needs to involve common factual and legal issues among its members.
- Whether the lead plaintiffs’ claims are typical. If you are the person initiating the class action, the judge will evaluate whether your claims and injuries are typical of all potential class members.
- Whether the case is adequately represented. Your lawyer will need to prove to the judge that you have sufficient interest in the case to adequately represent all potential class members. It’s important to find a lawyer who has experience class actions and complex litigation.
Filing a Class Action Lawsuit: A Step-by-Step Process
Once a judge approves the class action, the legal representatives involved can proceed with the next steps of the class action lawsuit process. This is called the discovery. During the discovery, the involved attorneys will likely request documents from the company being sued. They will use those documents to prove the allegations outlined by their plaintiffs. In addition to that, the lawyers can conduct depositions of individuals who have knowledge of the events and circumstances relevant to the subject of the lawsuit.
Many class actions settle without doing to trial. Depending on the situation, if settlement happens a fund could be established by the defendant to compensate the victims. A judge will review the settlement to ensure it provides full and fair compensation to the class members. A settlement is only official when a judge approves it.
In the event the lawsuit does not settle, the case will be tried before a jury. During the trial, the lead plaintiff may be asked to testify. Additional witnesses could be called upon as well. While there is still the opportunity for the case to settle during trial, the jury will be tasked with determining the final outcome.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
If you’ve been injured and believe you’re in the position where a class action might be available, get in touch with a lawyer from Thomas Law Offices. Whether a class action has already been started for your situation or we help you spearhead the lawsuit, we’re prepared to evaluate your claim and help you determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances. To learn more, contact us today.
How a Brain Injury Can Affect a Person’s Life