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How to Start a Class Action Lawsuit

How to start a class action lawsuit

A class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of a group of people against a business or person. In this article, we’ll talk about what a class action lawsuit is, what requirements should be met, and how you can start one with your lawyer. Read on!

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

You can file class action lawsuits if you: 

  • Suffer either financial or physical injuries due to wrongful actions by a corporation 
  • Believe that other people have been harmed in the same way

Hundreds or even thousands of individuals may be able to join a single class action lawsuit, especially when it’s not financially viable for them to file individual lawsuits. 

Class action lawsuits originated in the US and are still predominantly done in the country, but Canada and a number of European countries also have adopted laws that are similar to class action lawsuits. 

While not as common in the UK, forms of class action lawsuits exist. Still, the viability of class actions in England has been limited when compared to other jurisdictions, such as in the US and Australia. 

Types of Class Action Cases

What types of cases can become class-action lawsuits? They often involve situations where an individual doesn’t have the resources to challenge huge corporations. 

Moreover, the cases may include defective or dangerous products used by many customers. Investors who have been misled by fraudulent information can also file class action lawsuits. The same goes for customers victimized by fraudulent business practices

How Many People Are Needed to Start a Class Action Lawsuit? 

Class actions can be started by one person or a small group of people and filed on behalf of all those who suffered similar physical or financial damages. Generally, if at least a dozen people have comparably suffered the same damages, a class action is appropriate. 

After the lawsuit is filed, a judge will evaluate whether enough people have been injured in the same way. This is one of the crucial factors in determining whether or not the case can move forward as a class action. 

What to Prepare 

When starting a class action lawsuit, you need to speak to a lawyer. Most class action law firms offer free consultations over the phone, online, or in person. During such a conversation, the lawyer will ask about the details of the case. You must then provide supporting documentation to help the attorney determine whether a class action suit can be filed. 

Courts tend to dismiss frivolous suits, so your lawyer will want solid evidence that you have a valid claim. The attorney can research the history and outcomes of cases that involve similar allegations. They’ll look for any federal or state laws that have been broken and find out how many other people may have suffered damages in the same way as you do. 

Starting the Class Action Lawsuit 

After your attorney has reviewed the factual and legal issues at hand and determined that a lawsuit can be filed, he or she will draft a class action complaint.

The complaint will state the events that transpired leading to the injury or financial damages you and the other plaintiffs have suffered. It will also state that the lawsuit aims to recover compensation for the person filing the case — this person is called the “lead plaintiff” — and all other individuals who’ve suffered the same type of damage.

Requirements for Filing 

Once your lawsuit is filed, it comes to the judge’s table and will consider the following questions: 

  • How many people are affected? The case must represent a large number of people harmed by the defendant. Otherwise, the judge may decide that individual lawsuits are more appropriate than a class action one. 
  • Do members share questions of law and facts? The case’s legal and factual issues must be common to all class members, who should also have suffered similar damages. 
  • Are the legal claims typical to all class members? The lead plaintiff’s claims and damages should be common to all potential members. If the lead plaintiff’s interest falls in line with the interest of the rest of the class members, this requirement is met. However, if the lead plaintiff has experienced a significantly greater degree of harm than the average class member, the judge may advise you to file an individual lawsuit instead of a class action. 
  • Is the class adequately represented? The plaintiff and the lawyer should have adequate interest in the case to sufficiently represent all of the class members. As a rule, the attorney should have experience in handling complex litigation and class action suits.

Receiving a Notice for Class Action Claim 

Oftentimes, many people aren’t aware that they’re members of a class action lawsuit. This is typical among lawsuits that involve large organizations. If you happen to receive a notice for class action claim, the first thing to do is review the claim. 

You’ll receive a document that explains the nature of the lawsuit and how you are involved. For instance, in an employment-related class action claim, you might receive a notice if you were an employee of the company in question and might have suffered similar damages to other class members. 

You can decline to be a part of the class action claim. But if you do, you give up your rights to pursue individual legal actions against the defendant. The document you receive will explain how you can opt in or out of the suit. 

A good reason to opt out of the class action is when: 

  • You decide that the lawsuit has nothing to do with you 
  • You and your own lawyer determine that your chances of gaining compensation are greater if you approach the case individually instead of as a part of a class action 

There are risks, too. If you lose a class action lawsuit, you won’t receive any compensation for the injuries that you’ve suffered. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh your chances of winning between individually filing a suit or joining a class action.

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