In certain situations, a company or person is liable for injuring or causing a medical condition for multiple people. In this case, all of these victims can work together to file a class action lawsuit rather than file similar individual personal injury claims.
Class action lawsuits involve multiple people filing a consolidated lawsuit against one defendant to hold them accountable for negligence that led to damages. This lawsuit allows plaintiffs to share resources, experience streamlined discovery, and receive global settlements.
These types of large lawsuits can be complicated for those without legal experience. The process for a mass tort differs greatly from an individual lawsuit, so questions may arise from potential plaintiffs needing clarification about class actions. The following are some of the frequently asked questions regarding class action lawsuits.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit involves multiple plaintiffs filing one large, consolidated lawsuit against one defendant. In most cases, the defendant is a corporation or company liable for negligence that affected multiple people.
The large group of plaintiffs is known as the class, and any compensation earned through a class action is dispersed to every member of the class. For a class action lawsuit to be certified in court, it must meet the criteria set out by Rule 23.
The criteria a class action lawsuit must meet for certification include:
- The class action has so many plaintiffs that the courts could not practically handle each individual lawsuit
- Each claim has similar questions of law or facts
- The party that represents the class must have claims consistent with the rest of the class
- The representative party must adequately protect the interests of the class
What Types of Cases Regularly Become Class Action Lawsuits?
Class action lawsuits require one defendant to cause damages to multiple parties through negligence. For that reason, it’s more likely for a class action to involve a company or corporation than an individual who caused damages through negligent behavior.
For that reason, it’s unlikely for a motor vehicle accident, such as a truck, motorcycle, or car accident, to become a class action lawsuit. However, cases that involve consumer fraud affecting multiple consumers can elevate to class action status.
Product liability incidents involving dangerous products can also lead to class actions. Dangerous products can affect multiple consumers who buy and use the product and suffer severe injuries. Recently, many fast food consumers have filed fast food class action lawsuits with Taco Bell, Arby’s, and Burger King for false advertising.
What Advantages Does a Class Action Lawsuit Provide Over an Individual Lawsuit?
Some may wonder what the point of getting involved in a class action lawsuit is and what benefits it provides over an individual personal injury claim. Consolidation allows a group of plaintiffs to act as one in proving the at-fault party’s liability.
A class action lawsuit allows all plaintiffs to collect and share evidence, making it easier to prove the at-fault party’s liability. It allows tens to hundreds of lawyers to gather their own evidence and share what they find, making it easier for each lawyer to prove all elements.
In an individual lawsuit, each plaintiff must prove each element of their case on their own. The sharing of resources in a class action can make proving negligence easier. Plaintiffs in a class action can also take advantage of a global settlement, allowing them to collect compensation for their specific damages.
How Can Someone Join a Class Action Lawsuit?
Anybody can join a class action lawsuit if they suffered damages because of the defendant’s negligence. They must share common questions of fact with the plaintiffs already involved in the class action lawsuit.
If they meet the criteria of the class action lawsuit, they should hire a lawyer to help them contact the class action lawsuit administrator. They can provide information on what paperwork to file to join the class action and receive the benefits of the consolidated lawsuit.
How Long Do Class Action Lawsuits Take?
Before filing or joining a class action lawsuit, a potential plaintiff must understand the statute of limitations of their personal injury incident. Each type of claim has a time limit for when they can file a lawsuit or join a class action.
They can join the class action if the statute of limitations has yet to elapse. However, these large and complex lawsuits can take a long time to settle. It can sometimes take months, years, and even decades to reach a conclusion.
With so many plaintiffs and allegations of negligence, there will be a lot of evidence to sort through. Defendants can also attempt to delay lengthy test trials, called bellwether trials. Settlement negotiations can also take a long time as both sides try to get what they want.
What is the Difference Between Class Action Lawsuits and Multi-District Litigation?
If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you may have seen news of consolidated lawsuits concerning hair relaxers, Tylenol, and AFFF firefighting foam. However, these are not class action lawsuits but multi-district litigations (MDLs).
The difference between a class action and a multi-district litigation is how each starts. A class action lawsuit involves all plaintiffs jointly filing a lawsuit in federal court, whereas an MDL is when individual lawsuits with similar facts and defendants consolidate together after filing.
While the end goal and benefits of each are the same, they can come about at different times. If you suffered similar damages to other people from a company’s negligence, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer to determine if you should join an MDL or get involved in a class action.
Contact The Russo Firm for Help With Your Class Action Lawsuits
The class action lawyers at The Russo Firm can help you if you suffer damages from defective drugs, dangerous products, or a negligent company. We understand how complicated the process of a mass tort can be and can help advise you through the necessary steps.
Our class action attorneys can provide their decades of experience to help you join a class action and potentially recover compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. Contact us for a free class action case evaluation today at (561) 270-0913 or leave a message on our online contact page.