Filing a class action lawsuit is often the only reasonable way to hold large corporations liable for the damages incurred by several complainants. Individual plaintiffs may find it daunting to go against an established organization in most cases. Such may not be the case if the lawsuit involves several victims.
Class suits often last for a few months to several years, depending on the number of people involved, nature of the complaint, or the defendant’s legal strategy. For instance, some companies may choose to settle if they don’t want further problems, while some prefer to fight it out and file an appeal.
If you’re planning to sue a negligent company for damages, check whether you qualify for a class action lawsuit by learning what it is and how it works.
What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit refers to a case involving multiple plaintiffs claiming specific damages resulting from deliberate or negligent actions by a company. For instance, if a product has triggered widespread injuries, the victims can file a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers. Residents who suffer from chronic illnesses likely due to an organization’s irresponsible practices can do the same. If you think your injury case may be a common issue, visit https://www.snapkalaw.com/ for a free evaluation.
The most famous class action cases in history include widespread breast implant injuries, potentially fatal diet drugs, oil spills, fraudulent economic acts, and health issues from tobacco products—which were settled for over USD$200 billion.
What’s A Lead Plaintiff?
In every lawsuit, there has to be a defendant and a plaintiff. A class suit works in the same way, but a lead or original plaintiff represents the entire group. As such, the lead plaintiff is often the one who initiates the lawsuit and hires an attorney. The chief complainant will be named in the legal documents and will remain actively involved throughout the process.
This individual must be of good record and have no prior involvement in any fraudulent acts to qualify. With the advice of competent lawyers, they must choose to settle only if it’s in the group’s best interest.
Do I Need To Hire An Attorney For A Class Action Suit?
Being one of the class action members, you have to trust the lawyers already assigned to defend the group. Ensure the law firm has capable attorneys and an efficient data management system to make information accessible and complete. Otherwise, you can choose to opt out of the class action and file a complaint on your own with the legal counsel of your choice. Note that joining a class suit means giving up your right to sue the company individually.
Which Types Of Cases May Qualify?
Class lawsuits, as mentioned, pertain to any negligent or fraudulent actions by a company inflicting either physical or economic damages to several people. These may include creating and selling defective and hazardous products, securities fraud, unfair labor practices, systematic rejection of insurance payments, and causing toxic exposure.
Data privacy breaches may also be included in the list. In 2020, a global credit reporting agency was found guilty of data privacy infringement and ordered to pay USD$425 million.
What Are The Main Elements Of A Class Action Lawsuit?
A judge has to certify that a case meets the parameters of a class suit. Before gaining class certification, it has to be classified as a putative class action, which means the court has recognized the group’s common allegation. These are the critical requirements that judges look into:
- Numerosity doesn’t refer to the number of complainants but the impracticality of filing individual cases.
- Commonality, where class members must show that their claims result from specific company behaviors, including negligence and fraud
- Adequate representation, where the legal counsel for the class must demonstrate competency and the ability to defend the interests of the entire class reasonably
- Typicality occurs when the lead plaintiff’s claims reflect those of all the class suit members (e.g., a plane crash).
How Does One Initiate A Class Action Lawsuit?
As with other legal action, a class action starts with a complainant seeking legal advice from a seasoned legal counsel. The lawyer will provide suggestions on how to move forward.
Most class suits are initially filed before the state court, except in the state of Virginia in the United States, which bans these types of cases in their local courts. Virginia residents can then file their class action suits before the federal court. When class actions reach the national level, they’re often consolidated through multidistrict litigation.
The Bottom Line
Most importantly, joining a class suit provides victims with a more compelling argument, making companies pay for their negligence and fraudulent practices more effectively than filing individual complaints.
Author Bio: Lance Fields works as a paralegal while earning his law degree. He plans on becoming a personal injury lawyer once he gets his license.