When a number of people suffer the same damages or injuries that are caused by the same circumstances, a class-action lawsuit may be the best means to obtain legal redress for their claims. In many instances, the damage to each person is relatively small and not sufficient for them to pursue legal action on their own. As a result, companies often cause large number of consumers small harms and avoid being held accountable. However, each victim’s claims can be joined together in a class action to sue the company that caused the injury. Please continue reading more about how the powerful legal tool of a class action lawsuit can be used to benefit consumers and contact an experienced New Jersey class action attorney for assistance.
Who is Involved in a Class Action?
There are three main groups involved in a class action lawsuit. This includes:
- The named plaintiff(s): This is the person(s) who is filing the suit. Their name will appear on the complaint to start the lawsuit. The class action lawyer represents the named plaintiff.
- The class members: The class is consists of the hundreds or thousands of people whose legal rights were impacted by the suit in the same way as the named plaintiff(s). The class action lawyer also represents the class members..
- The defendant(s): The one or more companies that caused the harm to the named plaintiff(s) and the class members.
How do I Know if a Class Action Can be Filed?
An experienced class action attorney can evaluate the circumstances that caused you to suffer and injury, investigate whether other consumers have been similarly harmed, and determine whether your claim can be filed as a class action lawsuit. During the investigation, the class action lawyer will:
- Find out if other people were injured in the same way
- Determine if other people were injured by the same company or companies;
- Confirm you still has time to file a claim under the statute of limitations;
- Find out if a lawsuit making the same allegations was already filed; and
- Research previous court rulings on similar legal claims
How is the Lawsuit Filed?
Class Actions are commenced by filing a complaint that describes the facts of the case, describes the class of persons that are similarly situated to the Named Plaintiff, and the damages that are sought, with a federal or state court. The lawyer files the complaint on behalf of the Named Plaintiff acting in his or her individual capacity AND on behalf of all similarly situated persons.
When Does the Case Become Class Action?
A lawsuit may be filed as a class action; however, it does not officially become one until the court rules it should be “certified” as a class action. This process of having the lawsuit deemed a class action is called “class certification.” The class action attorney asks the court (i.e., files a motion) to certify the case as a class action, as soon as practicable after the case is filed. Until the court has certified the lawsuit as a class action, the case is referred to as “putative” class action. Generally, the case is presented for a ruling on class certification after the completion of discovery.
What is the Process of Discovery?
During the lawsuit, there is an investigatory phase called discovery. The class action attorneys can obtain information regarding the lawsuit from the defendant(s) or non-parties. The information may be in the form of documents, electronically stored information, and/or deposition testimony from witnesses. The class action attorney may also obtain reports from experts that may assist the court in certifying the case.
How is a Class Action Resolved?
As with most lawsuits, most class action cases settle before they go to trial. Successful cases often result in the creation of a settlement fund to compensate the class members. The class action lawyer representing the named plaintiff and the class must present any proposed settlement to the court, which must confirm the settlement it is a fair and reasonable resolution of the class members’ claims. Once the court approves the settlement, it becomes final and class members can receive compensation. Typically, a settlement administrator will handle the payment of compensation to class members.
How are the Lawyers Paid for a Class Action Case?
The class action lawyer is compensated only if the lawsuit is successful in recovering money for the named plaintiff and the class members. The class action lawyers’ fees may be paid from the settlement fund, or the defendants may separately pay the attorneys’ fees. In either event, the court must review and approve the payment of the attorneys’ fees.
Contact our Firm
If you or someone you would like to speak with a skilled attorney regarding a potential class action lawsuits, please contact The Law Office of Roosevelt Nesmith today.