Out of the blue you receive a fancy "class action notification letter" warning of a deadline to either "opt out" and be forever barred from the settlement.
What is a class action and what are you supposed to do?
What is a class action?
Unlike a lawsuit arising out of an injury to one person, class actions are a method for large numbers of people injured by a common act or set of actions to bring claims that are too expensive or inefficient to litigate individually.
In a class action, one or two "named plaintiffs" stand in for a group of similarly injured people.
After receiving notice of the action, potential class members have the option of excluding themselves from a class or class settlement, known as "opting out", and pursuing the case on their own.
If a class action settles, the judge presiding over the case must approve the settlement’s fairness.
What kinds of cases are litigated as class actions?
Although originally designed to help enforce civil rights laws through private lawsuits, class actions have evolved and are now used to seek money damages.
Class actions frequently involve hazardous products (ex., drugs, tobacco and asbestos), securities (ex., fraudulent financial statements and practices), and employment cases (ex., mass dismissals and wage/hour law violations), and to stop illegal or harmful practices like oil spills, manufacturing pollution, or violations of constitutional protections.
Should I be involved in a class action and what will it cost me?
To join a class action, you need take no steps. Instead, only those wishing to exclude themselves from a class, i.e., opt out, need to do anything.
Through participating in a class action, you may receive compensation for an injury or loss that you sustained that would not have been available to you individually.
As a member of a class of similarly harmed persons, you help demonstrate that the injury was substantial and affected a large number of people increasing both the likelihood - - and size - - of a recovery.
Additionally, costs incurred in litigating the dispute are advanced by the attorneys bringing the case and subtracted from any settlement or judgment upon the matter’s successful resolution.
If the claims are unsuccessful, the class action attorneys pay all costs and you pay nothing.
How are class action attorneys paid?
Following a class action’s successful resolution (by either settlement or judgment), the attorneys submit a fee petition to the judge assigned to the case detailing and itemizing their work.
The judge determines the amount of fees to be paid from the judgment or settlement proceeds based upon the case’s difficulty and risks involved in bringing it, the amount of time spent on case and the work’s quality, and the result that was achieved.
As always, if you have suffered a personal injury or have any question, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.