Have you ever received a notice in the mail alerting you to a potential settlement you could receive from a class action lawsuit? It may have been for something that you purchased a long time ago or for bank overdraft fees or for a defect in your car. Class action lawsuits serve a few important public policy interests. Most importantly, these lawsuits help bring justice to those who have suffered serious injury at the hands of large corporations. Class actions lawsuits are common in the pharmaceutical drug industry and the car manufacturing industry, specifically for product liability cases that cause personal injury.
Class action lawsuits have a special set of rules that apply in order to help put everyone involved on notice and get them involved in the case. Below are certain commonly asked questions and answers to help shed light on this particular area of the personal injury field.
- Why is a class action lawsuit used? Class action lawsuits are used when individual claims are too small to pursue in court on their own. It becomes more cost effective to combine all of the smaller valued claims into one claim and bring a lawsuit together against the same party. This helps to justify the expense of suing a large corporation.
- Where do you file a class action lawsuit? Class action lawsuits can be filed in federal court or state court. Some cases require that the claims be brought in federal court. The facts of the case and specific details of the parties will determine which jurisdiction the lawsuit will need to be filed in.
- What happens after a class action suit is filed? After a class action lawsuit is filed in court, the court must first decide if it will extend class certification to the case. Generally, this is a process in which the plaintiff representing the entire class must show that his injuries are the same injuries as the rest of the class, that there are clear definitions of who the members of the class are, and that a class action is the most efficient way to resolve the claims in the lawsuit. A judge makes the decision on whether the class can be certified based on his discretion. If the class is not certified, then the case is dismissed. If the class is certified, the case can proceed.
- What does opting-in and opting-out of a settlement mean? In most class action lawsuits, members are given the choice on whether they would like to participate in a settlement that is offered. Opting in to the settlement means that you have to take some sort of action to be a part of the settlement. Usually, opting in only involves filling out a form in order to give notice that you will join the rest of the class. If you opt out, however, you are not included in any settlement.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you received any notice that you are part of a class action lawsuit related to a personal injury, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately before taking any action in the matter. An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the class action process to help you get the outcome you deserve.