While there are clear advantages to consolidating multiple plaintiffs with similar legal claims into one case, the risks of joining a class action lawsuit merit careful consideration.
Although joining together in a class action can be powerful, plaintiffs risk receiving a smaller individual payout if the award is distributed among many people.
They may also lose their ability to bring an independent lawsuit if they are unhappy with the outcome. For these and other reasons, it’s essential to understand what a class action is and the risks of joining a class action lawsuit before choosing to become a class member.
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Sometimes, a company or entity makes a mistake that affects multiple people. While victims can sue for damages individually, it can be easier, cheaper, and often weightier to join up with others who suffered the same harm and sue together.
For instance, if multiple employees in a large company face similar discrimination issues, they might unite as a class to address common concerns. In such a scenario, courts would designate this group lawsuit as a class action.
A class action lawsuit begins when a representative plaintiff or multiple plaintiffs file a claim on behalf of a group of people who have suffered similar harm from the same cause.
These plaintiffs then act on behalf of this larger class of people, often not individually named in the lawsuit but whose interests they represent. Ultimately, the goal is to address common legal and factual questions once rather than requiring every affected individual to file a separate lawsuit.
Can You Explain How to Join a Class Action Lawsuit?
Here is a breakdown explaining how to join class action lawsuits:
- Determine eligibility. The lawsuit will have specific criteria defining who can be a member of the class.
- Submit required documents. If you meet the class criteria, you may need to complete and submit specific documents to join the class action.
- Receive notice. If a court certifies the class action, and you are a potential class member, you might receive a notice informing you about the lawsuit via mail, email, or a publication, which provides details about the lawsuit, your rights, and steps to join or opt-out.
- Opt-in or out. Some class actions require potential members to take specific steps and “opt-in” to be part of the lawsuit. Other class actions are “opt-out,” meaning the class automatically includes you unless you take steps to remove yourself.
- Outcome and compensation. If the lawsuit succeeds or there is a settlement, attorneys will notify class members about the distribution process. As a class member, you may receive compensation, but the amount can vary widely depending on the case and the number of class members.
- Binding decision. The result typically binds all class members once the lawsuit concludes. This means that if you are part of the class, you can’t file an individual lawsuit over the same issue later.
- Closure. After all processes end and attorneys distribute awards, your involvement in the class action typically concludes.
If you believe you are eligible for a class action but have not received a notice, or if you are unsure about your next steps, it’s wise to consult a class action lawyer who can review and explain your eligibility, the potential benefits and risks of joining, and the overall process. Consulting a lawyer will ensure your interests are protected.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Joining a Class Action Lawsuit?
Joining a class action lawsuit can be strategic, offering strength in numbers and potential efficiency. However, like all legal matters, it’s not without risk. Before making a decision, potential claimants should weigh the pros and cons.
The benefits of joining a class action lawsuit include:
- Class actions give victims who may not otherwise be able to pursue justice against the defendant the opportunity to do so;
- Uniting with others can create a stronger and more persuasive case against the defendant;
- Class actions typically involve sharing the costs with other plaintiffs, making it a more cost-effective way to seek legal compensation;
- Access to experienced class action lawyers increases the likelihood of a successful outcome for plaintiffs; and
- Plaintiffs have a higher chance of collecting a payout.
The risks of joining a class action lawsuit include:
- Depending on the jurisdiction and the suit, individuals may need to take specific actions to either opt in or opt out of a class action lawsuit;
- Lead plaintiffs and their attorneys typically decide all legal strategies;
- Class action lawsuits may involve years of litigation, which can be emotionally taxing and time-consuming;
- Class members may not feel as heard if they are not a class representative;
- Class actions may result in smaller individual payouts than in a separate lawsuit; and
Before joining a class action lawsuit, carefully assess your situation and consult with a class action lawyer. Ultimately, you should consider the risks and rewards while making a decision that aligns with your pursuit of justice and fair compensation.
Workplace Rights Law Group Can Answer Your Class Action Lawsuit Questions
Are you considering joining a class action lawsuit in Southern California? With nearly 75 years of collective legal knowledge, our experienced attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group deliver the kind of top-tier legal service large firms typically reserve for their corporate clients. However, unlike large firms, we limit our case intake to ensure each client receives tailored and individualized attention. But that’s not the only way we’re not like most law firms.
At Workplace Rights Law Group, our track record of securing compensation for wronged Southern California residents is a testament to our commitment. We care and will fight tirelessly to show you we do. Reach out to us for a no-obligation case evaluation and discover how we can assist you in your class action lawsuit journey.