Class action lawsuits are where one party consists of a group of people represented by one person in the group or a lawyer, attorney or law firm. Most commonly it is the plaintiffs that form the group where each member of the group has suffered the same or similar losses or injuries from the same event or by the same defendant.
In the case where the defense forms a group, it is normally due to many different individuals or organizations being responsible for one event or other factor that caused injury or loss to a single person. In this case, if the defendants are found to be responsible for the loss or injury, the entire group will need to compensate the injured party. The defendants will also usually share the legal costs resulting from the case whether it is settled out of court or not.
Where the plaintiffs form a group, the compensation is shared among members of the group. Individual group members do not necessarily receive the same amount and the settlement is normally divided proportionally. In other words, the person who suffered the greatest loss or injury may receive greater compensation than the other members of the class action lawsuit.
Legal costs may be shared by the individuals forming the class action suit and the costs may also be divided depending on how much each member of the suit can afford to pay. However, class action suits are normally on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer/attorney or other legal representative won’t charge any legal fees upfront or while the case is ongoing. Their legal costs will be deducted from the settlement amount or compensation received from a court order before each of the members of the class action lawsuit receive any amount.
Class action lawsuits are most beneficial to those who are seeking small amounts of compensation that would be too complicated or expensive to litigate in small claims court. In a class action suit, however, it is still important to ensure that the cost of the lawsuit will not exceed the compensation that is expected for each person involved in the suit.
The court will not hear each case individually but rather as one where only common evidence and facts are heard. This can be both advantageous and disadvantageous as more evidence can be gathered to support the action but individual experiences may be lost and not taken into consideration in the decision.
Class action suits are complicated and can become drawn out. Therefore most lawyers are not willing to take on these types of suits. Keep in mind that if the case is taken on a contingency basis and does not succeed, the lawyers and attorneys involved will receive no payment for their time and effort.
It is best to find attorneys or a law firm that specializes in class action lawsuits. These experts will be able to provide the best advice as to whether a strong case exists and the likelihood that it will succeed.