FAQs About Joining a Class Action Lawsuit

Class Action Quick Facts

A consumer class action lawsuit is one in which a few plaintiffs represent a larger group with similar claims. In situations where there may be hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs bringing individual lawsuits against the same defendant, such as a major corporation, a consumer class action lawsuit may be formed to both streamline the process and help an entire class of plaintiffs more effectively achieve justice and seek compensation.

Different types of class action lawsuits include:

  • Chemical exposure
  • Data breaches
  • Deceptive financial services
  • Deceptive food labeling
  • Defective products
  • Environmental exposure
  • False advertising

Another major advantage of consumer class action cases is that, when successful, they can effect systemic change in the corporations and/or organizations they are brought against. This not only helps those injured, but it also can help improve the safety of all consumers and prevent future injuries. For example, a vehicle manufacturer may implement new safety and quality control protocols to ensure that their vehicles are safer and more reliable for consumers.

The following two criteria must be met to bring a consumer class action lawsuit:

  • The group of plaintiffs must be large enough that conducting individual cases would be impractical
  • Each case shares common issues to the extent that the attorneys bringing the class action suit can adequately represent all parties

How to Join a Class Action Case

You may be wondering how class action cases are formed. Furthermore, if you have suffered an injury due to a defective product or another issue in which there is a class action case, how do you join the case as a plaintiff? The truth is you may not need to do anything to join a class action suit already in progress. Most class action lawsuits are what are called “opt-out lawsuits.” This means those affected by the lawsuit are automatically included in the class action case unless they actively opt out.

When a class action lawsuit is filed, those affected will receive a class action notice in the mail. This notice will explain the case, including whether the lawsuit affects your legal rights. For the most part, you will not need to do anything until the case settles. When this happens, you will likely have to submit a claim to receive your portion of the settlement. This is generally done online or in the mail. The notice you receive will outline how you can file a claim.

What About Opt-In Class Action Cases?

While most class action lawsuits are opt-out cases, some are handled as opt-in cases. With an opt-in class action lawsuit, class members are not automatically included in the suit. Instead, if you want to be included in the lawsuit, you will have to actively affirm that you wish to participate. As with an opt-out case, you will receive a class action notice in the mail with instructions on how to opt in.

Class Action vs. Mass Tort Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits are sometimes confused with mass tort lawsuits. With class action lawsuits, all injured parties (unless they opt out) are represented in the class action lawsuit. With a mass tort lawsuit, to receive compensation, each individual injured must file their own lawsuit to seek compensation.

Common examples of mass tort lawsuits include:

  • Prescription drug cases
  • Defective medical devices
  • Water contamination
  • Oil spills
  • Mining accidents
  • Airplane crashes

How Much Does It Cost to Join a Class Action Lawsuit?

Being part of a class action lawsuit should not cost you anything. In most of these cases, the attorneys representing the class of plaintiffs do not receive compensation unless they successfully secure a settlement. When this happens, attorneys’ fees are usually deducted from the settlement award.

When to Hire Legal Representation

Suppose you have been harmed by a defective product, deceptive food labeling, deceptive financial services, or some other type of negligence in the form of a corporation or organization. In that case, discussing your options with an attorney is a good idea. A skilled lawyer familiar with handling both individual product liability cases as well as large class action cases can help you understand all your legal options.

Here at Golomb Legal., we have been representing clients across the country, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars. If you are unsure whether it is in your best interest to opt into a class action lawsuit or if you should opt out of a lawsuit you have been automatically included in, reach out to one of our attorneys.

Schedule a free consultation today. Send us a message online or call our law firm at (215) 278-4449.