What You Need to Know Before Joining a Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit is essentially a legal battle between several plaintiffs and one defendant, often a large company or organization. Consumer fraud, defective products, one-time incidents, and several other issues can lead to a class action lawsuit. If a private individual has sustained damages from a large or powerful organization, a class action lawsuit is often the option that offers the best chance of recovery when it comes to getting compensation. However, whilst a class action lawsuit may often seem like the wisest and most straightforward choice, it’s important to be aware of the several risks and benefits of joining one. Before you go ahead, consider the following factors you should be aware of before joining a class action lawsuit.

Consult a Class Action Attorney:

Whilst class action lawsuits tend to have a better success rate when going up against large, powerful companies, like any legal battle, it’s best that you get expert advice and support before joining. An experienced attorney can help you with everything that you need to know about class action suits, from whether or not you are eligible to join, how to join, and what to expect.

Class Action Lawsuits Have a Better Chance of Success:

There’s no denying that class action lawsuits have a better chance of success when it comes to winning against a defendant who has money, power, and resources. The strength in numbers means that whilst individual plaintiffs may not have the time or resource to pursue a claim on their own against a defendant who has unlimited resources and attorneys on retainer, a class action lawsuit provides them with the additional strength, resources, and time that they need. In addition, a lone plaintiff may be unable to afford legal representation if the defendant takes all possible steps to delay proceedings; on the other hand, since potential plaintiffs must apply to join a class action lawsuit, the initial review process usually indicates whether the plaintiff has a claim.

It’s More Affordable:

Another reason to consider joining or even starting a class action lawsuit is that in general, it will be more affordable than an individual claim. This is because legal fees for joining class action lawsuits are minimal, compared to fees paid by an individual for legal representation. In addition, some plaintiffs may not even be required to pay anything if they have joined a lawsuit to receive compensation. The type of fee, or whether you need to pay a fee at all, is also decided by the type of lawsuit that you join.

Your Compensation is Usually Limited:

Whilst there are many benefits to joining a class action lawsuit, it’s also important to consider the risks and disadvantages. One of these is that when joining a class action lawsuit, you can usually expect to be awarded more limited compensation compared to taking on the defendant as an individual plaintiff. In addition, joining a class action lawsuit will mean that you have to agree not to pursue any additional legal action against the defendant. Ultimately, whilst a class action lawsuit will offer a much larger chance of success in a short period of time, it comes at a price.

You Have a Limited Time to Join:

If you are thinking about joining a class action lawsuit, then it’s very important that you act fast as most class action suits come with a limited opening window for joining. Since class action lawsuits offer the plaintiffs a larger chance of success, defendants in these proceedings usually want the proceedings to be taken care of as quickly as possible. This is because once the class action suit has concluded, the plaintiffs will not be able to pursue the defendant for the same damages. So, be sure to closely study the claim filing deadlines for any class action suits for which you qualify. In certain cases, defendants may notify you of your right to join a class action lawsuit, so look out for any such notices and speak to an attorney if you need advice.

Expect to Wait for Your Payout:

If at the case conclusion the ruling is not followed by any appeals, plaintiffs can usually expect to receive compensation as a result of the class action suit. However, compared to going up against a defendant as an individual claimant, you can expect to wait some time for your payout to finally arrive. In general, it can take anything from six months to one year after the case concludes.

Take the Money:

Even if you think that it’s not worth filing for a tiny settlement, or you don’t think that you have suffered sufficient financial harm to pursue a case, it’s a good idea to take the money anyway, and donate it to charity. Otherwise, it may go to another class member, or to a charity of the defendant’s choice. And, since the money that you receive is usually classed as taxable income, donating it to charity gets you a tax deduction.

Know Your Options:

Last but not least, just because you are eligible to join a class action lawsuit does not always mean that you should, or that there are no other options available to you. Bear in mind that sometimes, you may be automatically enrolled in a class action suit unless you opt out, so pay close attention to any notices that you receive. Whilst joining the class means that you are eligible for compensation, you also waive the right to a separate lawsuit. If you believe that you have a stronger case, or have been harmed more than other consumers, it’s a wise idea to speak to an attorney and discuss if there is anything else that you can do.

There are several possible issues that could lead to a class action lawsuit against a company or organization. Whether you’re looking to lead a suit against a defendant or are considering joining a class action lawsuit that you’ve been notified of, it’s important to know all the pros and cons before you begin.

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