When Does a Claim Become a Class Action Suit?

personal injury law

Were you hurt by a private party and the injury is a one-time occurrence? If so, then the next course of legal action is typically filing a civil suit against the responsible party. However, what happens in situations where a large company creates a defective or harmful product? This often causes injuries or even death to multiple individuals. Furthermore, in some cases, particularly those involving pharmaceutical drugs or medical devices, it can affect hundreds or even thousands of people.

If all these people are filing individual personal injury claims, then this has the potential to clog up the court system. It would take decades to hear all those cases and rule on each of them. That is why the option to file a class action lawsuit exists. This type of lawsuit compiles all the complaints into one comprehensive lawsuit against the defendant.

If a government entity, manufacturer, retailer, financial institution or employer hurt you, then your claim will likely be a class action lawsuit. Here are the steps to file a class action lawsuit.

Hire a Lawyer

The first step is to hire a lawyer who filed a class action lawsuit before. Filing a class action involves a lot of procedures. The process can be overwhelming, so it is helpful to have someone on your side who can guide you through the process.

Class Certification

Once your attorney files the complaint, the judge must certify the class. Certification often involves that the representative plaintiff proves the following:

  • The representative plaintiff suffered the same injuries as the others filing claims.
  • It can be determined who is and who is not a member of the class.
  • There are enough class members to make individual claims impractical (typically 40 or more).
  • A common set of facts caused all injuries.

Notification of a Lawsuit

Once the judge certifies the lawsuit, the members are typically notified by mail. This includes all members unless they opt out. Class action lawsuits are typically settled outside of court. However, they often take a long time to settle. Additionally, some cases require litigation.

If the members win their class action suit, then each party receives a portion of the settlement, which is typically a cash award. One of the drawbacks of a class action lawsuit is that the award could be quite small depending on the award amount and the number of members.

Taking Legal Action in a Class Action Lawsuit

Class action suits can be quite complex and is best handled by an attorney experienced in class action lawsuits. If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of a large company, you may be able to file a class action lawsuit. 

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