5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Filing Class Action Lawsuits
Filing Class Action Lawsuits
If you have suffered physically or financially along with a group of other people at the hands of a common defendant, you may have the basis to file for a class-action lawsuit. A class-action lawsuit is a civil case filed on behalf of a group of people who have experienced similar injuries as a result of the defendant’s actions, where at least one person serves as the group’s representative.
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Corporations are liable for any neglect or malpractice when their actions result in harm. One such example is asbestos usage in the military. Asbestos was acclaimed for its fireproofing and insulating properties but later proved to be the leading cause of mesothelioma. For decades, asbestos-based product manufacturers were aware of the hazards it caused to the people around it, but they kept the information from the military and the public.
Thousands of military men had already been exposed to asbestos by the time the dangers became known. Hence, you may file a class-action lawsuit if you served in the military and now have an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma. A mesothelioma class action lawsuit can help you pay for medical bills and protect your family’s financial security.
The most important step before filing a class-action suit is ensuring that you hire an experienced class-action law firm with a track record of success and the resources to argue on behalf of thousands of claimants. Mesothelioma attorneys at Simmons Hanly & Conroy can help you through the legal system and make the procedure simple for you.
Why You Should File a Class Action Lawsuit
Class actions bring multiple victims under one platform because many cases do not have enough damages to justify the effort and expense of bringing them individually to court. For example, a bank may be charging millions of customers unlawful fees ranging from $20 to $100. Because the damages are so little, it would be pointless for a lawyer to file a $100 case on behalf of every customer. Instead, they can all join together and file a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation of several hundred million dollars from the bank.
Class action lawsuits also save the courts time by preventing them from having to hear every claim that comes their way. These cases can be filed for several causes, including:
A product that is defective and dangerous
Harmful medicinal side effects
Discrimination patterns in the workplace
Illegal business activities
Contract breach or fraudulent practices.
Benefits of Class Action Lawsuits
The most significant benefit of pursuing a class action is that it will cost you much less as compared to filing an individual claim. This saves money for everyone involved as all of the plaintiffs are dividing the costs evenly. In most cases, there is usually no fee unless you win the case.
After spending thousands of dollars to go up against a major corporation, your claim may only be worth a few hundred dollars. You can avoid this danger by filing a class-action lawsuit. For example, many women developed an autoimmune illness after receiving a silicone breast implant. These women initiated a class-action lawsuit together. The silicone breast implant company eventually settled for $3.2 billion.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind before filing a class-action lawsuit.
1. No Individual Claim After Joining a Class-Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits are not suitable for everyone. With all the benefits that it provides you, there are some drawbacks as well. When you join a class action, you renounce your right to launch a separate lawsuit on your own. If you’re thinking about joining a class-action lawsuit, you should think about whether it’s the correct case for you.
Not everyone in the group suffers equally. Some people are hurt more or less than others. If you suffered more than others, you might want to consider filing a separate case to increase your chances of receiving a higher payment. Before joining or withdrawing from the class action, you should consult an attorney.
If you join a class-action lawsuit, you will never be able to pursue an individual claim against the firm for the same issue again, even if you don’t win the class-action. If the class action lawsuit fails, you’re out of luck for the rest of your life. If you believe your case has a possibility of failing, but you need compensation, an individual claim may be right for you.
2. Compensation Limited to Specific Damages
After winning the class action lawsuit, you only get compensated for precise financial losses. For instance, if you were injured by a defective product, a court is likely to award damages for the cost of the item and the cost of treatment.
A court will not award damages for any significant risks that may arise due to using that product in the future. You will only get compensated for a portion of your actual damage. If you have a case where you may be awarded a huge compensation in damages, such as a personal injury case, or if you predict future losses, you should definitely avoid filing a class-action lawsuit and instead file individually.
3. Taxable Settlements
Any monetary judgment you get in a class-action lawsuit is typically considered taxable income by tax authorities. After the court confirms the settlement agreement in your case, it may take six to nine months to receive your settlement cash. If you do not opt-out and pursue a separate lawsuit, or if you do not accept the class action settlement amount, the money will be donated to charity.
4. You Have No Say in What Happens Next
Class action cases are representative rather than collective litigation. It means that the major litigation choices, such as when to settle, are made by the representatives. You have no say in decision-making if you are a plaintiff in a class-action case. Only attorneys and representing parties have the authority to make decisions. If you want to make your own decisions, you can opt-out of the class action and launch your lawsuit.
5. No Immediate Resolution
Class action cases are complex, and they naturally take a long time to resolve. While an individual legal action may be settled in a short period, class action lawsuits might take years to complete. From the time of the original filing, some class action cases have taken more than 15 years to conclude.
The Bottom Line:
In the American legal system, class action lawsuits are one of the most powerful means to hold guilty parties accountable. But because they involve a large number of people and require time, they are critiqued. This is why you need an expert class action lawyer who can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action.