You likely hear the news stories about people in Hawaii and elsewhere suffering injuries from igniting cell phone batteries, exploding airbags or defective medical devices. Perhaps you have experienced a similar incident with a product, and you considered trying to seek some compensation from the company. The factor that held you back was probably the idea of paying a lawyer to take on a big company for what would end up being a pittance in return if anything.
The thought of taking on a giant by yourself may intimidate you into giving up the idea. However, there is another option. Through class action lawsuits, many "little people" have successfully held big companies accountable for their defective products.
What is a class action?
The general idea of a class action lawsuit is to pool the resources of many plaintiffs to seek compensation from one defendant. If one individual, company or organization is responsible for similar injuries or damages to many people, those cases can be combined into one, especially where it would not be financially feasible for one person to seek redress.
The most common class action cases involve the following:
- Consumers injured by defective products
- Businesses or employers accused of discrimination
- Customers who feel a company deceived them through false advertising
- Insurance companies that act in bad faith
- Financial institutions that overcharge fees for their services
Some consumers have joined class action lawsuits to stop individuals or companies that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by spamming them with text messages or robocalls.
A class act
One or several plaintiffs who have suffered injuries similar to the other members represent the entire group as the lead plaintiffs. The lead plaintiffs present the case to a judge who decides if it merits class-action status, meaning that it is a worthy claim that represents all the members of the class. If the judge certifies the class, the lawsuit proceeds with the lead plaintiff representing you and the rest of the individuals who joined the class.
Class action lawsuits have several distinct advantages. First, they make a lawsuit affordable for many who may not have the money to seek what they deserve. While you may not receive a large payout, you will at least get something if your case is successful. Often class actions are settled out of court because the defendants are more eager to put it behind them. A class action usually takes longer to settle, but it may be an option worth looking into for your situation.