In a class action lawsuit, a group of injured parties can work together to hold a defendant responsible for their negligent behavior. During this process, the court uses one case to represent the entire class. They hear this one case and use it to determine liability and whether the class members will receive compensation.
If you believe you may have a case that could support a class action lawsuit, or if you suffered injuries and heard about a similar matter, a personal injury lawyer from our team can help you determine the next steps. We offer free case reviews.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work?
Class actions generally start when several people with similar injuries caused by the same company or party decide to take legal action. Once their attorneys become aware of other victims, they may discuss filing a consumer class action lawsuit on behalf of their clients and others.
Before filing to become a class action, they will select a single claim or a small group of cases that are representative of the entire class. The final step is meeting specific qualifications and asking a judge to approve them for class certification. This process is not always easy, and not all potential cases receive certification.
What does Class Certification Require?
As the American Bar Association (ABA) explains, cases that request class certification must meet certain qualifications. These are not concrete rules because the judge has a lot of leeway in granting class certification.
Some general rules include:
- There must be a large number of victims who suffered injuries because of the same defendant.
- All victims should have similar facts about what happened and who caused it.
- The selected class representative must have a case that shares these commonalities.
- The attorney must be able to represent the class and have experience in this type of mass tort.
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What Kind of Incidents Support Class Action Lawsuits?
Many types of conflicts and negligence injuries can support class action cases. The most familiar to the general public are usually product liability cases, which can include:
- Defective products
- Problematic tires and car parts
- Dangerous pharmaceuticals
However, other types of class action lawsuits are also common. Victims may file class action lawsuits based on:
- Employment law violations
- Securities concerts
- Corporate misconduct
Some examples of widely known class action lawsuits and settlements include:
- The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)
- The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Settlement
- Volkswagen Clean Air Act Settlement
- Takata Airbag Recalls and Settlements
What Is Multidistrict Litigation?
Class actions are not the only type of mass tort that might make it easier for individual victims to hold a large corporation accountable. If a group of victims suffered harm in the same incident or the same type of incident but suffered drastically different injuries, multidistrict litigation (MDL) may be the best option.
During an MDL, the representative case is known as a “bellwether trial,” because this case does not determine the outcome for the other victims. Instead, they each file their own lawsuit. Then, the pretrial motions and discovery phase occur for the entire group. After several bellwether trials allow all parties to see the possible outcomes in these cases, there are four options:
- The defendant agrees to provide a settlement to each member of the group.
- The defendant offers individual settlements.
- The claimants decide to drop their lawsuits,
- Each lawsuit goes to trial in its original jurisdiction.
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What Should I Do If I Think I May Have a Case?
A personal injury legal firm can review the facts of what happened to you and offer an opinion about your legal options. Not all injury attorneys handle class action lawsuits, but they may be able to evaluate your claim.
You may have a negligence case even if you do not have a claim that supports a class action. There is a limited time to take action, though. Time limits in the Gulf South include:
- Two years under Ala. Code § 6-2-38 in Alabama
- Three years under Ark. Code Ann § 16-56-105 in Arkansas
- One year under La. Civ. Code Art. 3492 in Louisiana
- Three years under Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49 in Mississippi
The recoverable damages in most injury cases are compensatory in nature. They compensate you for the expenses you spent and the losses you incurred because of the incident and your injuries. Examples include:
- Medical treatment
- Current and future care costs
- Missed work and income
- Diminished ability to earn in the future
- Additional expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
Discuss Your Legal Options with an Attorney from Morris Bart, LLC, Today
You can speak to us about how our personal injury attorney may be able to help you during a free consultation today. The Morris Bart law firm represents injured parties in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We have 15 offices to serve you.
You can reach us by calling (800) 537-8185. Our lawyers are familiar with class action lawsuits, injury claims, and insurance settlement agreements.
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