The closest many people come to a class action suit is late-night infomercials for the latest prescription drug recalled by the Food and Drug Administration. Though these are usually legitimate, you do not always have to put in the legwork and “sign up” for a class action. In reality, if a class action is approved by the courts, all parties affected are automatically accounted. Many do not even realize they are part of this process until a check comes in the mail.
However, just because a recall or fraudulent action involves you does not mean you have to settle for the class action amount. Once you understand how these claims work, you can decide if it is better to accept the community payout or seek justice through a personal claim. This is an important choice that can cost more than it is worth, so consult with an honest legal team before choosing.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action typically addresses a product or service that has affected a large group of people. For example, if a company fraudulently charges excessive fees for rendered services, it may wind up facing litigation. In this case, anyone who purchased from that company during the time in question may be entitled to some compensation. These amounts are usually low, as the compensation may be split between millions of customers.
Do You Qualify?
A class action must go through the following process before it is legitimate:
- The trial is approved.
- The court deems that too many class members (plaintiffs) exist; they cannot all be named as parties in the lawsuit.
- The claim qualifies as a class action.
- The individual plaintiffs are notified.
Though those TV ads ask that you call in and speak to an attorney, most individuals are listed by default in a class action claim. When you are notified, you must opt-out if you do not want to participate. You might do this if you would rather file a personal claim, which is a viable option if your circumstances warrant additional compensation outside of the lump sum awarded to individual class members.
In the rare situation where you do have to join a class action suit (or you believe you qualify but did not receive a notice), contact the law office handling the claim. Your name can be added to the class registry, pending evidence that confirms your involvement with the case – such as a receipt or credit card statement.
Sound like Easy Money?
The truth is that class action suits are often more trouble than they are worth. For example, the company charging excessive fees may only pay $25 per claimant. Though that could amount to millions that the enterprise must pay, the cost of litigation may not be worth it for individual plaintiffs with their own lawyers.
Pursuing a Class Action
The law office handling the claim you are interested in should have more information about a specific lawsuit on its landing pages. However, if you believe you are entitled to compensation that may involve dozens or thousands of people, you might need to start your own class action suit. Though the disbursement could be low for some people, this litigation keeps companies accountable and safeguards consumer interests.
Start by finding and speaking to an attorney experienced in this area. Once you sit down for a consultation, ask about what you could qualify for and how you can pursue legal action. At this stage, it is important your attorney is willing to take the matter to trial, and prepared to stand up against a dishonest company or faulty product. For more information on class action and a personal look at your case, contact the team at Brian White today.