If you’ve ever been wronged by a large corporation and wondered if there was anything you could do, class action lawsuits can be a great option. They allow groups of individuals to band together and pursue legal action against companies. The larger the class, the more likely it is that we can win our case.
As per Forbes, 2021 saw the highest recorded settlement for a class action lawsuit of 3.62 billion USD. In 2020, the highest settlement amount was 1.58 billion USD, and in 2019 it was 1.34 billion USD.
If you’re wondering whether or not this is something worth pursuing in your situation, here are some steps to get started:
Step 1: Make Sure Your Claim Meets the Requirements
A general rule that applies to most US class action lawsuits is that the plaintiff (the person suing) must have suffered an injury or loss due to the defendant’s actions. In other words, this person must have been harmed by something they allege was wrong with a product or service.
For example, more recently, the ongoing Tylenol Lawsuit has been filed against the manufacturers and major retailers of the drug Tylenol. In this class action lawsuit individuals diagnosed with Autism or ADHD, whose mothers took Tylenol during pregnancy, have claimed that they were not warned about the increased risk of Autism and ADHD associated with Acetaminophen (a main ingredient of Tylenol) usage during pregnancy.
According to a recent report on Reuters, a Judicial Panel had sent 18 lawsuits against Tylenol retailers for pretrial proceedings in October this year and had sent 48 more such cases to multidistrict litigation.
Step 2: Have All Your Documents Ready
Once you’ve decided to join a class action lawsuit, or if you’re already part of one and want to add yourself, it’s important to have the following items ready:
- Documentation of your claim. This includes any documents that show you are a victim of the defendant’s conduct and/or how much money you lost as a result.
- Documents proving defendants’ responsibility for harm caused by their actions or negligence. These could include agreements between parties involved with transactions that led up until the point where the problem occurred (i.e., intent) or proof showing the company knew about the problem but did nothing about it even though they could’ve prevented damage from happening (i.e., recklessness).
Step 3: Determine if There Is an Existing Lawsuit
Before you start your class action lawsuit, it’s essential to determine if there is an existing class action lawsuit for you to join. You can look for existing class action lawsuits by searching on Google or legal websites like Class Action Hub, but it may take some digging.
Once you’ve found a potential case, check the following:
- Is there a date attached? If so, it means that the lawsuit is still pending and could be resolved soon, or not at all. Either way, this means there are no benefits available yet to new applicants.
- Does it say no benefit yet”? This means that this class action has been settled and has no more open spots for new applicants at its current stage. Be sure to check back periodically so that you don’t miss out on future opportunities.
Step 4: Decide What Type of Lawsuit You Want to Pursue
You need to decide what type of lawsuit you want to pursue. Class action lawsuits can be used to sue for monetary damages or injunctive relief. If you want to sue for monetary damages, you must be able to show that you were damaged by the defendant’s actions. For example, if your credit score was affected by a debt collection company’s illegal actions.
Injunctive relief is when the judge orders someone else (the defendant) not only not to do something in the future but also to make up for past wrongs.
Step 5: Find the Court That Has Jurisdiction Over Your Case
To do this, you will need the statute you are trying to enforce and the company you are suing. For example, if you want to sue a car manufacturer for not properly informing consumers about an issue with their cars, find where they’re headquartered and then look up which state’s General Corporation Law applies to them.
If there is more than one court with jurisdiction over your case, choose the one closest to home for simplicity’s sake.
Step 6: Determine Which Class You Belong To
In general, it is up to the court to determine what class you belong to if your claim is similar to other claims.
The court will likely use the following criteria when making this decision:
- The similarity of the claims in question.
- Whether all of the putative class members have been injured similarly. and/or,
- Whether there are enough common planks between their cases that they would be more effective together than apart.
Step 7: File a Motion Requesting to Be Added to the Existing Lawsuit
If you are approved to be added to an existing class action lawsuit, you will have the opportunity to participate in a settlement and receive compensation from the defendant. If your request is denied, it does not mean that you cannot file a separate lawsuit for yourself and others with similar experiences. However, it does mean that these other people would not be able to join your suit if they wanted to do so later on.
If you want to start your lawsuit instead of being added as a plaintiff in someone else’s case, then talk with an attorney about whether or not this is right for you. If so, hire them immediately.
As per Law.com, the number of class action lawsuits against FTSE 100 companies has jumped by 10% over the past year. The research says that there are currently 170 class action claims against these companies, up from 155 last year.
Class action lawsuits give you the right to join other people who have been wronged by a company, but make sure you are eligible. If you meet the requirements of the law and want to join a class action lawsuit, talk to an attorney.