Class action lawsuits can be a valuable and worthwhile way of recovering money when you have not received the benefit of the bargain for something that you purchased. However, while many people often think that they should be filing a lawsuit, they have no idea how to start a class action lawsuit. The truth is that class action lawsuits need to follow certain procedures before they can be finalized.
How to File a Class Action Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit actually starts with some sort of injury that you have suffered. This does not have to be a physical injury. You can also file a class action lawsuit if you have suffered some type of economic injury.
By way of example, let’s say that you have purchased a car that was manufactured with a defective transmission. You have not gotten the car that you have paid for, your driving experience is ruined and you cannot enjoy your car. Everyone who has purchased the vehicle model with this issue is also suffering in the same way.
As a result, you can start a class action lawsuit to force the company that made the car to pay you. Theoretically, there would be a number of monetary damages that you have sustained by not getting a working vehicle. You would then file a complaint with the court.
How to Initiate a Class Action Lawsuit
If you are wondering how to file a class action lawsuit against a company, it is not as simple as just deciding that your case should be a class action lawsuit. There is a procedure that you must follow in order to have your lawsuit certified as a class action.
The companies that would be defendants in your class action lawsuit do not want you to be able to file this type of lawsuit. In many cases, the harms that are suffered by members of the class would not be significant enough to merit their own individual lawsuit. Thus, the defendants have every incentive in the world to try to keep your lawsuit from becoming a class action.
Class Action Lawsuit Procedure
Of course, when you file your class action lawsuit, you will ask the court to consider it as one. This would allow a large number of plaintiffs to all file under the same case using the same attorneys. There are efficiencies to this approach that help small plaintiffs each get their day in court.
A class action lawsuit starts when one person files a complaint with the court. This complaint will state the legal grounds for the lawsuit. In the original complaint, the attorneys will include a request that the court certifies the plaintiffs as their own class.
Just because the plaintiffs claim that they are representative of a class does not mean that the judge will ultimately approve the request. What you are after as the plaintiff is called class certification. This is where the judge says that it is permitted for all of the plaintiffs to proceed together. In some cases, if the judge does not certify the class, it means the end of the lawsuit.
The defendant will invariably oppose the request for class certification. They know that if the judge denies certification that they may possibly be off the hook.
There are rules of civil procedure that give the requirements that a lawsuit must follow in order to be certified as a class. One of the requirements is that the class of plaintiffs must be so large that it would not be practical for each person to bring a lawsuit on their own. Some courts fix this number at 40 or more plaintiffs for each lawsuit, although other courts do not have their own numerical requirement.
One of the major issues that the court will look at is whether each of the plaintiffs in the case has suffered the same exact injury. In other words, the court will determine whether there are common issues of law and fact between all of the plaintiffs. The more complex the class action group, the more challenging it is to meet this requirement. However, it is always possible to make this showing to the court.
Another requirement if you are going to file a class action claim yourself is that the harm that you have suffered must be representative of the injury that the entire class has suffered. This is not a difficult requirement to meet if you are filing a consumer class action lawsuit.
Is a Class Action Lawsuit Worth It?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. It is important to know more about how class actions work to understand why it is absolutely worth it to file one.
It is essential to be aware of how the lawyers who file the class action lawsuit are compensated. They are paid on a contingency basis. The attorneys who file the case receive nothing unless they are successful in helping the class obtain a settlement or win a jury verdict.
It is only then that the attorneys may approach the court with a motion requesting compensation for their work. The court then approves or modifies the request. The attorneys’ fees come off the top of the settlement amount.
In other words, it costs you absolutely nothing to file a class action lawsuit. You will not be required to pay out of pocket. It is the lawyers who take on the risk. Thus, it is unquestionably worthwhile to initiate a class action lawsuit against a company. You have no risk when you file, and the only cost to you is some of your time.
The best-case scenario is that you are able to get money that you otherwise would have never gotten. While it does require some effort on the part of the named plaintiff for which they are paid, class action settlements are almost like found money.
How Much Money Do You Get From a Class Action Lawsuit?
This all depends on the damages that are suffered by the class and the settlement or verdict that your attorneys are able to secure. It is hard to give a blanket answer for how much you get from an individual lawsuit when there are so many variables at play. The one thing that we can say for sure about what you can get, is that you have the potential to receive more from filing a lawsuit than if you do not file a class action at all.
Each class action has a class representative who is the named plaintiff in the lawsuit. There is more money in it for you if you are the lead plaintiff. Of course, there is some extra work that you would need to do if you are the class representative. At the end of the day, this is balanced out with the extra compensation.
In general, class action settlements can be as little as a few dollars. However, this is money that you would not have otherwise had. There are some occasions when you may be surprised by a class action check for hundreds of dollars that you were not expecting. These are opportunities to receive additional money that you simply should not miss.
At Checkissuing, we can help your business file class action claim distributions, settlement payouts and associated tax reporting. Contact us today to learn more.