A class action lawsuit is when a lot of people that have had similar negative experiences, get together and file a lawsuit against the company or individual. Class actions should be regarding misconduct from a company or several companies or it could be a violation of the civil rights of a group by an individual or several individuals. Here are some things that you should know if you are involved in class actions of some kind.
- You Should Get Involved
Commercial cases that involve accusations like fraud or product defects tend to settle in arbitration without going to trial. For example, there have been companies that have had to undergo class actions because of the amount of complaints by customers regarding cell phone calls. Or perhaps a company didn’t have enough security and there was a data breach. These kinds of situations usually end with the company agreeing to pay millions of dollars in a settlement. The more people that are willing to band together to file the lawsuit, the higher the likelihood of a positive outcome.
- You Probably Aren’t in for a Major Payday
While companies going through class actions do have to pay a lot of money, the class members themselves don’t usually see a huge chunk because of the sheer volume of people involved. For example, even if a settlement is upwards of $100 million, after all the legal fees are paid for, if there are 40 million people affected by the company, they can each expect about a dollar. Some cases may offer higher payouts if there are less people involved but it it unlikely that you will catch your big break because of being a class member in a lawsuit.
- You Should Make Yourself Involved
Typically, class actions notify their members in an ad or possibly by mail or a posting once a court approve the case. However, if you think you might be apart of a class action lawsuit but haven’t been reached out to, there are websites that you can visit to find out what cases and settlements are going on now. Or, if you have received a notice but are concerned that it might be fraudulent, you can contact your state attorney general’s office to verify any information.
- You Should Know What Your Options Are
Many times, class members are automatically included unless you decide to opt out. This means that you are eligible for compensation through the class action case, but you also have the right to file your own, separate lawsuit. This would only be a good idea if you can prove that you have been affected or harmed more than any of the other members in the class action. You should probably consult with a lawyer before opting out of a class.
- It’s Going to Take a Long Time
Don’t hold your breath for immediate payout. The accused party can object or appeal as many times as they want assuming they have new information. It could be months or even years before the settlement receives final approval from the court and then after that, the class members probably won’t get their payout for around six to nine months later.
- Always Take the Money
This might seem obvious, but in some white collar offenses, people feel that they did not suffer sufficient harm to award them any money or they do not want to take the time for it. However, you should get involved and take the money anyway. You could then donate it it to a charity and get a tax deduction if you really do not want it. It might be a good idea to do that anyway because the money you get it typically considered to be taxable income when it comes time to file your taxes.
You may feel that a case isn’t worth your time but it is to someone else. If you have undergone even a little harm from an individual or a company, you should still allow yourself to be involved. Chances are that someone suffered a lot worse than you and this case means a lot to them. The more people that are willing to get involved, no matter how small the offense, the more likely you all are to win.