A class action lawsuit may be appropriate when many individuals have incurred injuries arising from a defendant’s actions. One expansive case provides a more streamlined approach than filing multiple — maybe thousands — of individual lawsuits. Below is an overview of the process.
The court first must approve the plaintiff’s request for a class certification. The defendant(s), however, has the right to present a defense. If the judge grants the plaintiff’s motion for class certification, the next step is to find and notify everyone affected. They are commonly known as class members.
Sometimes it’s easy to locate potential injured parties, known as class members. A corporate data breach case, for instance, likely has a list that includes the victims’ contact information. However, damage caused by a manufacturer of a product takes more time and effort to locate victims. Notices are often advertised on various media outlets encouraging affected persons to visit a designated website for further instructions.
The opt-out option
Even if a person is identified as injured and part of the class, they can choose to opt out of a class action lawsuit. They might not want to get involved or they may wish to pursue a cause of action on their own against one of more of the defendants involved.
Verdict or settlement reached
After discovery, the process involved with investigating the accusations and examining evidence, the parties involved may reach an agreement. If a settlement is reached and the court approves the amount, the recipients will receive the award notifications. However, everyone may not necessarily receive the same amount. Payouts may vary based on the degree of participation in the process and the severity of injuries. Attorney fees are also included as a payout.
If a settlement cannot be reached after negotiation, the case goes to trial where verdict is reached in favor of either the plaintiff or defendant.
It’s important to know that class actions are never quick. They are complicated and, in some Alabama class actions, may take two or more years to complete. That should not deter an injured plaintiff from proceeding with an action.
If you received notice that you may be part of the class action, seeking the guidance of an attorney who has handled complex class action matters is a good first step.