Understanding Class Action Lawsuits
15 November 2015
Whenever you’re wronged by an individual, the entire process can be trying for you and your whole family. The silver lining in these situations is that if you choose to seek damages, you can put a face to the person who caused you distress. Things change drastically when you’re harmed by a corporation.
What are Class Action Lawsuits?
If you or a loved one is is caused bodily, financial, or psychological distress by a faceless business through negligence or deception, it can feel incredibly overwhelming, especially when it comes to pursuing legal action. However, you don’t need to take on this monumental task alone. It’s likely that there are other victims as well, and filing a class action lawsuit could be the best option for all of you. The process can be a massive undertaking, so make sure you know what’s involved before committing.
Seek A Reputable Law Firm to Try and Certify Your Class Action Lawsuit
Firstly, you need to seek the aid of a great law firm, particularly one that has a deep understanding of personal injury and insurance law. If the firm decides your case might have merit (similar to the medical malpractice process), it requires a lengthy attorney investigation. A class action lawsuit will not be heard by a court unless certain requirements are verified by the filing party. While there is no guarantee the class will be certified, your law firm must be able to at least present the following factors to a court before moving forward:
Not Filing Alone
Unlike a personal injury case, an individual cannot be the sole victim in a class action lawsuit. There have to be a plethora of possible plaintiffs and lawsuits against a defendant. Typically this class number could be hundreds or thousands of people.
The Same Claim
For each of the victims, their claims must be based around common legal issues so they can be dealt with together. An example could be suffering a non-disclosed side effect of a new medication.
The named plaintiffs (the representatives) are able to present a case similar to others filed in the class. For the above example, someone who did not get expected results of the new medication would not be able to file along with those who suffered the side effect.
Protection by Representatives
The named plaintiffs must be able to look out for the best interests of the class. This means that they and their lawyers will adequately represent the absentee class members throughout the entirety of the suit.
Next Steps In Class Action Lawsuits
If the class receives certification, the plaintiffs can begin the discovery phase. This gives the filing class access to information from the defendants and any third parties that will support their claim. This can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the suit since it includes a number of depositions and investigation by both sides.
After enough time has passed, the defendants can attempt to motion for summary judgement. This is their attempt to show that the plaintiffs do not possess the required facts to move forward or there is some other legal roadblock that cannot be bypassed. It’s important to note that the motion is heard and decided by a judge, not a jury. The case can only continue if the judge denies the motion.
Will Your Lawyer Settle or Go to Trial?
At this point, there will be a settlement or the suit will go to trial. Settlement can be ideal if damages for each class member are substantial. This also means there won’t be a long and drawn out trial. If a settlement is reached, it still needs to be approved by the court, who also approves the fees and expenses of the class’ legal representation. The members of the class are alerted to the proposed settlement, and they can choose to accept their share, or might decline, opting to file their own individual claim for greater damages.
While the length of time can vary from suit to suit, it’s never recommended that you pursue justice alone. By working with the right firm and the right lawyers, you can receive what you deserve from those that did you wrong.
[gdlr_button href=”/personal-injury-lawyer” size=”medium”]LEARN MORE[/gdlr_button]