A class action is a lawsuit in which a group of plaintiffs with similar injuries or sustained damages sue one or several people, companies, governments or other entities.
A class action is often a good choice for those situations where there are many potential plaintiffs with similar interests and/or damages.
A class action seeks the recovery of compensation for damages inflicted by a defendant’s fraudulent, negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct. For example, when a number of people suffering injuries caused by a particular drug on the market sue the drug’s manufacturer, or when multiple individuals are injured due to a faulty product. Some advantages to a class action lawsuit include:
- Lower litigation costs. In a class action the litigation costs are spread among all class members providing the opportunity to seek compensation or relief via pooled resources unlike in an individual lawsuit.
- All plaintiffs will receive compensation for their damages. In some instances, if every aggrieved party pursues the defendant individually, the defendant could go out of business prior to compensating the plaintiffs. A class action can help ensure all affected individuals will recover compensation.
- Sometimes the damages are relatively small as to one person but extremely large when a defendant takes advantage of a vast number of people on a pattern and practice basis. For example, if a bank charges a hidden or illegal fee from hundreds or thousands of customers and the defendant counts on individual lawsuits being expensive and impractical and therefore never brought. However, a class action brought on behalf of many aggrieved plaintiffs serves to right the ongoing wrong restoring balance to the community served.
- Judicial efficiency. Class actions are generally handled by one judge avoiding a multiplicity of lawsuits in the same courthouse or in multiple courthouses across the State of California or even across the nation.
Class Action or Individual Lawsuit?
Individuals also have the possibility to “opt-out” of certain class action lawsuits if done early enough. This means not taking part in that particular case, allowing them to file an individual lawsuit retaining control over it's timing and strategy, as well as the amounts and terms of settlement. If you believe you were affected by a class defendant’s conduct and are in doubt about joining or remaining in an ongoing class action, contact us and we will help you determine the right choice for you based on your particular circumstances.