“Someone ought to put a stop to that,” you may be thinking. Perhaps a company is selling appliances with dangerous defects. Maybe a manufacturing plant dumped chemical waste into the town’s water supply. Whatever the situation may be, people are suffering unfair consequences. It might be time for a class-action lawsuit.
Class-action lawsuits are battles commonly between a company and their customers, but can extend to non-customers or smaller businesses if the company’s actions harmed them. If each individual were to pursue claims, the legal fees would heavily outweigh benefits. This special form of legal action can more efficiently protect large groups of people.
You might discover that a lawsuit is in the works and your name is already on the list. You can add your voice to the mix with everyone else. However, you might be apprehensive because you aren’t sure what it means to be part of this lawsuit.
The first thing to know is that you do not have to pay the attorneys who manage the case. Instead, they may receive a portion of the settlement or nothing at all if they lose. This allows participants to share the cost of the lawsuit, but only through the potential repayment. In other words, you won’t have to use personal funds for court proceedings.
Secondly, despite the millions of dollars in settlements that you hear on the news, this amount is spread across everyone who was part of the lawsuit. It may also take several months to arrive. The actual amount you can expect to receive may vary depending on the type of case and number of participants.
You also have the right to opt-out if you wish. This means that you will not receive any money from a settlement. However, participation in a class-action lawsuit is often low-risk and most people don’t need to testify in court or take additional action.
Overall, class-action lawsuits can give the “little guy” power against large entities that would otherwise be impossible to defeat in court. They can encourage better behavior for companies and help victims receive compensation.