What Is a Class Action Lawsuit, and When Can One Be Filed?
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit, and When Can One Be Filed?

Most people are not a stranger to the term “class action lawsuit.” However, if they are asked what this is and when it can be filed, there seems to be some confusion. Simply put, this type of lawsuit is filed by a group of people who have suffered similarly because of actions taken by one or more people, corporations, or various other entities. In other words, the “class” of people filing the lawsuit alleges that the defendant was responsible for causing some kind of harm.

When the number of plaintiffs filing a traditional personal injury lawsuit is too great, they can join forces in a class action lawsuit. However, just one or a few of the plaintiffs actually file the suit, as well as conduct litigation. The remaining plaintiffs choose to join. Depending on the situation, some plaintiffs are automatically included in a class action lawsuit while others are required to “opt in.”

Regardless if the case is settled out of court or the defendant loses the trial, all plaintiffs are granted a percentage of the damages. If all of the victims have not been identified or were difficult to reach, a fund is established. This gives those individuals monetary recourse if harm from the defendant is proven. Although a monetary settlement is typically the resolution, some class action lawsuits end up with unique solutions, such as plaintiffs receiving free products or services for a specific amount of time.

Because a class action lawsuit is complex and many defendants have access to money, winning can be difficult. This is why it is so important to hire a reputable attorney. With challenges ahead, plaintiffs need to work with a lawyer who has experience and expertise in this area of the law. Without the assistance of a qualified attorney, the case will likely end in defeat.

To get started with a class action lawsuit, the attorney files a complaint with the court. With that done, the defendant is served. Before the case can proceed, either the plaintiff is required to file a motion for class certification or the certification is initiated by the court. Although most states follow similar requirements, there are slight differences from state to state.

The plaintiff must prove specific things in order for the class to be certified by a judge. For example, it has to be proven that the alleged injuries suffered by the plaintiff representing the class are the same as what the entire class suffered. In addition, there must be a clear definition of the class so the court can determine who the members are, and there has to be the right number of plaintiffs, generally 40 or more.

There must also be a common legal interest or set of facts that underlie the alleged injuries for all plaintiffs. Most importantly, this type of lawsuit has to be certified. Otherwise, it will be dismissed. If you or someone you know has grounds for filing a class action lawsuit, the best way to win the case is by allowing a reputable attorney to take charge.

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