Class Action FAQ
If you believe you are one of many people who have been physically or financially injured by a business, or you have been contacted about a class action lawsuit, read on to learn more about class action litigation.
Class Action FAQs
- What is a class action lawsuit? A class action is a lawsuit against one or more defendants regarding a widespread harm that the defendant(s) caused. The harmed group could include dozens, hundreds, or thousands of victims. All of the victims of the defendant’s actions had to have suffered the same or similar injuries, such as a type of cancer, loss of compensation, or being over-billed for a service. A class action lawsuit must be certified by a judge, who also defines which individuals belong to the class.
- Who can bring a class action lawsuit? A class action lawsuit can be brought by one or more of the victims of the defendant’s actions. The named plaintiff in the lawsuit is the class representative. That is the individual that stands in for all of the injured parties.
- What is a “class”? The “class” in a class action is the group of people who were all negatively impacted by the defendant’s wrongful conduct. Every member of the class must have the same or very similar injuries.
- Who is part of the class? The judge who certifies a class action lawsuit also defines who is part of the class based on information provided by the plaintiff—the individual who filed the lawsuit. The class may be restricted or defined in various ways, such as geographic region, time, or business transaction. For example, customers of a certain business between certain dates may all be part of the class.
- How do I know if I’m a part of a class action? The plaintiff in a class action is required to provide notice to potential members of the class. This may be done through a phone call, letter, email, or an add online, the radio, or TV. You may be contacted directly by one of these methods informing you that you may be a member of the class, or you may see an ad and reach out to the law firm.
- I received an email about a class action, do I have to participate? No, you are not required to be part of a class action lawsuit. If you are contacted about being a member of a class, you may opt out. People tend to opt out if they wish to preserve their own legal action against the defendant(s). You should speak to a class action lawyer about whether it is better for you to remain in the class or opt out.
- Do I have to pay to be part of a class action? No, if you are contacted about being a member of a class, you do not owe any legal fees.
- Who pays for a class action? The class representative and their attorneys handle the upfront costs of a class action lawsuit. Often, law firms will take on the burden of the initial costs, including the lawyers’ time, court filing fees, and expert witnesses’ fees. When a settlement is reached or a court award is won, the law firm is paid first from this compensation.
- Will I receive compensation from a class action settlement? If the class action lawsuit is resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, then you may receive a part of the settlement or court award. You may receive cash, or you may receive a credit that you can use to purchase goods or services from the defendant’s business.
- Is a class action the same thing as a mass tort? No, class action and mass tort lawsuits are different. A class action is one lawsuit on behalf of many. Mass torts are many separate lawsuits that have been moved to one or a few jurisdictions for efficiency.
- Can I file a class action lawsuit? If you believe you are one of many people who have been harmed by an organization’s actions, contact a class action lawyer right away. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances and advise you on the likelihood of a judge approving a class action. If a class action is not possible, you may still have an individual legal claim against the other party.
- Why are class action lawsuits filed? The most common reasons for class action lawsuits include financial issues, like predatory lending, environmental issues, like cancer-causing pollution, unlawful employment practices, civil rights violations, defective products, and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.