If you have suffered the same type of damages, due to the same entity’s negligence, as a large group of people, you may have grounds to move forward with a class-action lawsuit. Many people, however, find themselves wondering, “Does a class-action lawsuit really benefit me?” Take a look at how a class-action works and what benefit it may offer.
What Is a Class-Action Lawsuit?
A class-action lawsuit occurs when a group of people who have suffered the same type of injuries band together to file a single lawsuit as a group. Also known as “mass tort claims,” these cases usually occur because a company’s negligence has, in some way, caused immense injury to a number of people. Class-action lawsuits often involve:
- Defective products
- Defective medical devices
- Employers who enforce dangerous policies or fail to provide adequate safety precautions
- Environmental hazards
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How does a Class-Action Lawsuit Work?
A class-action lawsuit varies slightly from a regular personal injury claim.
The Class-Action Lawsuit Will Be Certified By the Court
In order for a class-action lawsuit to be certified, the state will take a look at the case as a whole and consider several factors, including:
- How many people are impacted by the negligence or problem?
- What damages did injured parties suffer as a result of that negligence?
- Is the negligence or problem the same across the board?
- Does the liable party have the same general defense to all plaintiff complaints?
If the claim involves a large number of people – so many that it is impractical for them to file individual claims–and the cases are very similar, the courts may certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. The courts will also look at what damages the plaintiffs suffered and whether those damages entitle them to file a lawsuit.
A “Lead Plaintiff” Represents All People Involved in the Claim
Generally, the lead plaintiff has average damages resulting from the defective product, medical device, or hazard. The lead plaintiff’s medical records, damages, and injuries may be carefully examined by the court in order to determine the average damages that the group deserves.
The Courts Will Work to Identify All People Who Have the Right to Participate in the Claim
If you have the right to participate, you will receive notification and have the right to opt in or out.
The Lawyers Will Create and Present the Case
The courts will then rule on the evidence presented and designate a payout. All the parties involved in the class-action lawsuit will, in general, receive the same payout for their injuries. At the conclusion of the claim, you will receive a payout based on the injuries you suffered.
In most class-action lawsuits, the lawyers will take their fees out of the initial settlement, and the remaining funds will be divided between all parties who have the right to participate in the lawsuit.
What Are the Benefits of Participating in a Class-Action Lawsuit?
Participating in a class-action lawsuit offers a number of benefits to your claim.
As Part of a Class-action Lawsuit, You Share All Associated Legal Fees
Many people worry that working with a lawyer will eat into the funds they can recover as a result of a serious injury. As part of a class-action lawsuit, however, you will split the fees with the other individuals involved in the claim, which means that ultimately, you will have lower legal fees than you would if you tried to move forward with a claim on your own.
You Can File a Class-Action Claim for Damages that Might Not Be Worthwhile If You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim on Your Own.
Because class-action lawsuits reduce the cost of legal fees for each individual party involved in the claim, you may be able to pursue compensation for lower damage amounts than you would if you needed to file a personal injury claim on your own.
A Class-Action Lawsuit Makes It Easier for All Plaintiffs to Recover Some Damages
Filing a personal injury claim on your own when the defendant has caused damage to a large number of people can prove risky. In some cases, the defendant may run out of funds to pay potential injury claims, which can make it much more difficult for any one individual to receive the compensation they deserve.
In a class-action lawsuit, on the other hand, all parties impacted by the defendant’s negligent actions will receive some compensation for the injuries they sustained. While it might not offer as much compensation as they might receive by filing a personal injury claim, especially if a specific individual has suffered substantially greater damages than others, a class-action lawsuit helps ensure that everyone receives some compensation for their injuries.
A Class-Action Lawsuit Helps Move the Process Through More Efficiently
When many people need to file claims at the same time, it can bog down the system and make the legal process proceed much slower. You may also find that your individual investigation takes longer if you file a claim on your own than when everyone works together. You will have evidence from multiple other plaintiffs as well as your own evidence, which can help provide the incentive needed to settle your case effectively.
Working together also means that your case is more likely to move quickly through the court system, so you may get the compensation you deserve in your hands sooner than if you filed an individual claim.
Settlements Are Uniform
Since a class-action lawsuit uses one plaintiff to represent the others involved in the claim, it’s possible to more easily see exactly what compensation you will receive. You won’t have to wonder what agreement the court will arrive at for your specific claim or whether you can recover compensation based on the terms of a previous settlement agreement.
Do You Need Help to Get Started As Part of a Class-Action Lawsuit?
Morris Bart can make it easier for you to manage your legal needs. Contact us today to learn more.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.