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How Does A Class Action Lawsuit Work?

Class-action lawsuits allow groups of people (called plaintiffs) to seek justice and claims against defendants (usually a large company or government) that caused them substantial loss or harm. It can apply to product liabilities, privacy breaches, labour and employment and institutional abuse, environmental accidents and mass injuries.

Unfortunately, class action lawsuits are difficult to submit as you have to prove substantial damage has been made to a large group of individuals. Furthermore, class action lawsuits can take years to be finalized, which can be emotionally and mentally exhausting for the plaintiffs.

Some cases are not submitted due to a lack of information about the process. Having an understanding of the steps leading to a class action settlement is valuable information that can make a difference. This process breakdown highlights the steps that lead to an agreement.

1. A Lawyer or Law Firm Files a Class Action on Behalf of the Party

The lead plaintiff (the individual who started the case) must present to their lawyer that their group, or their potential of a group, have enough evidence to submit a claim. All plaintiffs in a class action suit must have a similar claim for damages, as this the most effective method to guarantee that indeed harm and damage were caused. When enough information and evidence have been gathered, the lawyer can submit it to a judge to certify it.

2. A Judge Agrees That the Case Can Proceed as a Class Action & Certifies It

For the case to become a class action lawsuit, the lawyer must present a case that meets several criteria. For example, it must prove that all plaintiffs have suffered similar injuries or have similar claims against the defendant. Only once this has been confirmed, along with other required criteria, the judge can proceed and certify the class action.

3. The Judge Directs Notice to the Plaintiffs

Once certified, the judge directs notice to all potential members of the class that the case has commenced. All members of the class are automatically included in the action, unless they specifically opt-out. Those who opt out have no further standing in the case and can bring action against the defendant on their own accord.

4. The Settlement is Agreed

The class action settlement can take years to be agreed upon. It can either be settled out of court or tried in the court where the judge renders a decision. Once the court's compensation amount is decided in class action lawsuit, it must be made available to the plaintiffs. It can be either be divided evenly among the party members or depending on how they were affected by the defendant, receiving different degrees of compensation. Plaintiffs will be told how they will collect their compensation by the court.

This is the standard process for a class action lawsuit. If you think that you, or fellow individuals, have a claim against a party, then consult with an attorney about your legal options.


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