5 Facts You Need to Know About Class Action Lawsuits

July 13, 2016 @ 9:16 am

courthouse

Class action lawsuits may grab headlines and make for compelling news stories, but many people do not understand the scope of these legal cases and the impact they may have on future laws and regulations. More importantly, few people understand how these lawsuits can impact them personally or how to get involved if they are affected. Here are five important things to understand about class action lawsuits:

1. What A Class Action Lawsuit Means  

In a class action lawsuit, a group of citizens will collectively sue another party, which is often a corporation or organization. Although there are many plaintiffs, the affected group agrees to pursue legal action as a single unit in order to gain more traction and limit individual costs. While this makes sense to Americans, many people around the world do not have this opportunity. The modern conception of class action lawsuits began in 1966 when the American Federal Rules for Civil Procedure was revised and clarified. This largely coincided with the Civil Rights Movement, and class action lawsuits were seen as a viable means of seeking change and justice. Other countries have adopted similar laws, but class action lawsuits remain a predominantly American experience.

2. Numbers Matter

Class action lawsuits must satisfy several criteria in order to move ahead in the legal system. One of the critical considerations is the number of people who join the suit. Legally speaking, there is no set number required for a class action lawsuit to move ahead, but most cases that are approved have hundreds of plaintiffs. Having this many participants gives the case validity in court, effectively establishing the case’s innate merits. For plaintiffs, however, these numbers mean power. Most of the time, class action lawsuits are more effective at eliciting a response from larger corporations, many of which shrug off small lawsuits as part of normal business.

3. You Often Forfeit Your Rights

For all the power that a class action lawsuit can give you, it is important to remember that these lawsuits may require some sacrifice from participants. If you join a class action lawsuit, you often give up the right to pursue legal action on your own. This means that you may have to live with whatever the verdict of the lawsuit is even if it does not satisfactorily address your situation. This is why all participants need to consider their individual situation carefully before signing onto a class action lawsuit. In some cases, you may have a better chance at a meaningful court victory if you file a suit on your own.

4. The Payout Could Be Minimal

Joining a class action lawsuit is easy, and can save money by sharing expenses with other claimants. However, while corporations may ultimately settle some class action lawsuits, it does not guarantee a large payout for members who have joined a class. The success of a class action lawsuit depends on many factors, including the likelihood that a case within the class would win on its own.

5. Your Response Is Required

Class action lawsuits can be open to individuals affected by each particular case. For example, if the dispute is about a defective product, you may be eligible to join if you also purchased the product. Once a case is started, many potential plaintiffs are contacted about their desire to participate. If you want to be part of the class, it is important to respond timely to letters advising of your eligibility.

Before you decide to join a class action lawsuit, it is critical to discuss the case with a lawyer you trust. At Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik, our team has ample experience with class action lawsuits and can provide you with expert legal counsel for your case. Contact us today or visit our website to learn about your legal options.