Class Action Insights

The Power of Numbers: An Overview of Class Action Lawsuits

You do not have to be a high-powered attorney to know about the legal option of a class action lawsuits. In fact, all you have to do is to follow the news to see class action lawsuits in action. Although the nightly news presents stories that pertain to class action lawsuits, most of us have no idea what the legal process entails, much less what a class action lawsuit means. Before you contact a class action attorney, you should at least understand the basics of the much publicized legal process.

Class Action Lawsuit Defined

A class action lawsuit brings together a group of plaintiffs that have suffered identical or similar injuries caused by a product or incident in which a defendant is charged with being responsible. For example, a group of people that suffered injuries from a defective lawnmower have the legal right to seek damages as a group against the manufacturer and/or the retailer that sold the lawnmower. Also referred to as mass tort litigation and multi-district litigation, a class action lawsuit can include motor vehicles, medical devices, and pharmaceutical drugs, among countless other consumer products. Mass tort litigation involves a group of plaintiffs suing a company because of a major accident, such as an airplane crash or a scaffold falling on a number of people attending a concert. Consumer fraud cases also lead to the filing of class action lawsuits.

Why File a Class Action Lawsuit?

Class action lawsuits consolidate the services provided by attorneys, as well as the evidence used to seek damages in a lawsuit. Many class action lawsuits originate from a group of plaintiffs that suffered minor injuries not fit for individual lawsuits, but when added up in a group, the injuries become a major legal issue for a company liable for the injuries. Class action lawsuits represent the most effective legal strategy for a group of people that face huge legal obstacles filing lawsuits individually. Class action lawsuits have special relevance in employment laws cases in which a large group of employees file racial discrimination charges against an employer that spans several years of wrongdoing.

Notice of Class Action

Under United States law, every member of a legal class that files a lawsuit has the right to be informed that action has been taken against a defendant. The legal class in a class action case typically is defined by each person affected by a court’s decision in a lawsuit. You might see a television advertisement promoting a notice of class action or read about one filed in a newspaper public service announcement. A judge orders that attorneys must make “reasonable attempts” to notify class action lawsuit plaintiffs. After notification, plaintiffs have the option to participate as members of the legal class or decide to “opt out” and not join a legal proceeding.

Judgments for Class Action Cases

Class action judgments cover every participant of the legal process. Every participant of a class action case must follow the court decision, even if a participant never set foot in a courtroom during legal proceedings. The lack of active participation separates class action cases from cases filed by individual plaintiffs. Payments to members of a class action lawsuit follow a court mandated “plan of distribution.” A judge creates a plan to distribute that amount of money won by the plaintiff class, which typically includes the deduction of ligation costs, such as court and attorney fees. The distribution of funds can be a percentage of the entire reward or dollar figures that vary depending on the review of individual claims.

The breadth and complexity of class action lawsuits should prompt you to seek legal advice from a licensed attorney who specializes in class action lawsuits. Whether you have received injuries from a toxic chemical or endured sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a class action attorney today to see if you have a legal case that other people have also pursued.

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