How to Get Involved in a Class Action Lawsuit
How to Get Involved in a Class Action Lawsuit
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How to Get Involved in a Class Action Lawsuit
Filing a class action lawsuit is one of the many ways to take legal action against another party for their role in your injury. While this type of lawsuit has been around for years, not so many people know exactly what it entails and how to join one. This article covers the most important things you need to know about class action lawsuits, including how to join.
The Class Action Lawsuit Process Explained
The class action lawsuit process begins by consulting an experienced class action lawyer if you have been injured due to someone else's negligence.
Many class action lawsuits involve product liability cases.
These are the kinds of cases where the plaintiff wishes to take legal action against the defendant after being injured by a defective product manufactured, handled, marketed, or distributed by the plaintiff. When you file a class action lawsuit, you and many other plaintiffs seek compensation for similar injuries.
The term 'similar injuries' means you and other plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit share identical injuries due to the defendant's actions or lack thereof. Take a defective electric kettle as an example. Suppose the kettle had a defective design, burning the user when they opened the lid after boiling water. In that case, if other users also suffered similar injuries while using the kettle, then they might as well join the class action lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.
In a class action lawsuit, you can be involved as the lead plaintiff or a class member. Here's the difference between these two:
Who Is a Lead Plaintiff?
A lead plaintiff is an individual who represents other class members in a class action lawsuit. Lead plaintiffs tend to pocket a higher settlement when they win the case because they are actively involved in the litigation process.
On the other hand, other plaintiffs don't need to do anything during a class action lawsuit. All they'll need to do is wait for the outcome of the court's ruling. If they win the case, they'll receive compensation, which is usually shared among the class members.
When the compensation is released, other class members might be required to sign a document confirming receipt of the settlement. Other than that, they are pretty much not involved in the litigation process.
It is also important to note that there can be more than one lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit.
What Does a Lead Plaintiff Do?
As mentioned earlier, the lead plaintiff represents all other plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. For this reason, their roles are almost similar to that of a plaintiff in a standard personal injury lawsuit. More specifically, the lead plaintiff does the following:
Hires a Class Action Attorney
This individual is responsible for researching around for a good class action lawyer. Once they find the attorney they wish to work with, they will schedule a consultation with them to discuss the case. If the attorney concludes that the plaintiff might have a valid case against the defendant, they will decide the best course of legal action to take, in this case, a class action lawsuit.
Files a Class Action Lawsuit
The lead plaintiff is also responsible for filing the lawsuit against the defendant. This usually happens after collecting evidence and building a strong case against the defendant.
Attends Court Sessions
One of the reasons lead plaintiffs receive higher settlements than other plaintiffs in the class is because they're usually involved in almost every aspect of the lawsuit. From attending deposition to testifying, the lead plaintiff plays a significant role throughout the case.
Assesses the Settlement Offer
With the help of an experienced class action attorney, the lead plaintiff will also assess the settlement and agree to its terms if it is reasonable. If agreed, the defendant will be required to release the settlement, which is then shared among the class members.
What Are Some Benefits of Being a Lead Plaintiff?
As the lead plaintiff, you could benefit significantly from a class action lawsuit, that is, if you win the lawsuit.
As mentioned before, lead plaintiffs keep the larger share of the settlement when they win the case. This is because they are usually more involved in the case than other plaintiffs, who only sit back and wait for the outcome.
Being a lead plaintiff also means you'll have more control over the case. However, the same cannot be said when you're not the lead plaintiff. Specifically, lead plaintiffs can either agree or disagree with the settlement offer and many other aspects of the case.
In most class action lawsuits, lead plaintiffs don't need to spend any money out of their own pockets. On the downside, though, they will be required to spend their time on the case.
This includes depositions, court sessions, meetings with the attorneys, etc.
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Can I Still Join a Class Action Lawsuit if I Am Not the Lead Plaintiff?
You can still join a class action lawsuit, but not necessarily as the lead plaintiff. If you have suffered similar injuries as the lead plaintiff, you may be able to join a class action lawsuit against the defendant. In this case, you'll be referred to as a class member.
Talk to an experienced attorney about your injuries. Your attorney will let you know whether you are eligible to join the lawsuit. If you are, you'll likely receive a confirmation letter via mail confirming your participation in the lawsuit. Sometimes, you may even receive this letter without necessarily signing up as a class member.
Is Filing a Class Action Lawsuit Worth It?
The truth is that class action lawsuits are not designed for all kinds of cases. They are best suited for specific situations. Let's take a look at some of these scenarios.
Filing a class action lawsuit is usually the best way to proceed with a lawsuit against a big company if you've suffered minor injuries due to their negligence. This is because a class action lawsuit can help reduce litigation costs. When you suffer minor injuries, chances are the costs of litigation might be more than the settlement amount to expect. But by joining a class action lawsuit, you can still obtain compensation for your injuries without worrying about litigation costs.
Class action lawsuits usually have a higher chance of settling than standard civil lawsuits. This is because class action lawsuits usually involve many plaintiffs. As a result, the other party will likely be willing to settle to get the case out of the way. But when you file an individual lawsuit, chances are the defendant will want to frustrate the litigation process to the point where it becomes pointless to seek compensation.
Another great benefit about class action lawsuits is that they save your time, that is, if you're not the lead plaintiff. All you have to do is sit back and follow the proceedings from the comfort of your home. You do not have to ask for days off from work to attend court hearings or other legal duties. Instead, the lead plaintiffs represent all members of the class seeking compensation for their damages.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Class Action Lawsuit?
There's no standard statute of limitations for filing a class action lawsuit. It all depends on the reason for filing the lawsuit and the jurisdiction handling the case.
For example, in some states, the statute of limitations for filing a product liability lawsuit is three years. In other states, you have up to two years from the date of malpractice to file a class action lawsuit for medical malpractice.
Given that each state or case has its unique statute of limitations, it is always advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after you discover that you have been injured due to someone else's negligence.
Do I Need to File a Class Action Lawsuit?
While class action lawsuits have many benefits over individual lawsuits, they do not fit every situation. There are times when filing a class action lawsuit isn't a great idea. In fact, your attorney might recommend filing a claim directly with the other party or their insurance than proceeding with a lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to consult a seasoned attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific case.
How Much Can I Recover From a Class Action Lawsuit?
The amount you may be able to recover as compensation for your injuries usually depends on your role in the class action lawsuit. In most cases, when you're the lead plaintiff, you'll recover more damages because you're actively involved in the case. On the other hand, as a class member, you may not recover that much because you aren't as involved in the case as the lead plaintiff.
Bear in mind that an experienced attorney can also help you maximize your claim. For example, if more than one party is responsible for your injuries, your lawyer can help pursue compensation from different avenues, ensuring you receive what you need and deserve.
When Do I Receive My Compensation?
Unfortunately, there's no specific date to expect your payment after a successful class action lawsuit. This is because these kinds of lawsuits have different timelines. For example, if the defense files an appeal, the case will likely take longer. This is actually one of the reasons lead plaintiffs get paid more when the other party agrees to settle; they usually spend a lot of time on the case.
That said, you may receive your settlement within months if the other party does not file an appeal. However, if they appeal, the lawsuit could take years to settle.
Where Do I Find the Best Class Action Lawyer?
When looking for the best class action lawyer to represent you or your loved one, there are certain important factors you need to consider, as discussed below.
You need an attorney with a proven track record of winning these kinds of cases. If they don't have such a record, chances are they'll want to use your case as an experiment.
Class action lawsuits require a lot of legal resources from the attorney's side. Since these cases could take years to settle, you need an attorney with access to powerful resources to keep fighting for their client's rights.
The reputation of the attorney or law firm you intend to work with is also important. You need a lawyer or law firm known for handling these kinds of cases and winning them.
How Morgan and Morgan Can Help
If you're looking for an attorney with an excellent track record, powerful legal resources, and a great reputation, Morgan and Morgan is the injury law firm to contact. Speaking of track record, we've helped our clients recover more than $30 billion as compensation for their injuries. And in terms of resources, we are the largest personal injury law firm in the United States. Lastly, about reputation, our law firm has more than 28,000 5-star reviews on Google alone.
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