Has a company wronged you? Perhaps falsely advertised to, overcharged, or sold a defective product? If so, you may be considering legal action to hold them accountable. Filing an individual lawsuit can be pretty expensive and demanding.
But by joining class action lawsuits, people with similar grievances can band together and seek justice as one. Let’s look at 3 important things you should know about these types of lawsuits.
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1. Understand What Qualifies
Not every complaint against a company constitutes grounds for a class action. Certain criteria must be met. First, the proposed class needs to be large enough. There is no set number, but at minimum, several dozen people should have suffered the same harm.
Second, the claims must raise common legal and factual questions. For instance, a group of people all charged illegal overdraft fees by the same bank. The lead plaintiffs must also adequately represent the interests of the entire class.
Once these prerequisites are satisfied, the case can potentially gain class-action status. This is not guaranteed though. The judge must certify the class first. They will scrutinize every aspect of the case to ensure it meets the standards and is suitable to bundle together. If certification is granted, the lawsuit proceeds as a class action.
2. Find An Experienced Attorney
You need an experienced class action lawyer on your side to successfully navigate this complex process. Not just any personal injury or product liability attorney will do. Find specialists who focus specifically on class action lawsuits.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for attorneys who have achieved high-value settlements and verdicts in similar prior cases. This demonstrates they have the expertise and resources to advocate effectively on behalf of an entire class.
Vetting multiple law firms to represent the class is standard. The court will select lead counsel. So even if you did not initiate the suit yourself, you want input on what firm will steer the ship. Examine their credentials, case results, peer reviews, and overall reputation.
3. Understand Compensation Opportunities
If the class action reaches a favorable settlement or judgment at trial, class members can share in the recovery. How much each individual receives depends on a few factors. First is the total size of the class. The larger the class, the more individuals with whom to divide the proceeds.
Something else, some class members may have stronger claims than others based on individual circumstances. For instance, people more severely injured by a defective product would recover greater compensation than those with minor injuries.
Attorney fees also come out of the class recovery, typically around 30 percent. Administration costs also get deducted for notification efforts, claims processing, and fund management. After all these considerations, the remaining amount gets distributed based on the class allocation model crafted by the lead attorneys and approved by the court. This decides who gets what share.
Things to Know Before Filing Class Action Lawsuits: The Bottom Line
Class action lawsuits empower everyday people to challenge corporate misconduct and obtain the compensation they likely couldn’t get alone. By understanding the process, hiring experienced attorneys, and evaluating potential payouts, you can make an informed decision about participating. The more knowledgeable you are upfront, the better positioned you will be to achieve a successful outcome in fighting for your rights.