When a company has subjected you to deceptive and illegal practices, taken advantage of your rights, or caused you injury, it is very likely that you are not alone. Chances are, you are not the first consumer that has fallen victim to their unsavory actions. And unless serious measures are taken against them, you will probably not be their last.
Unfortunately, large companies bank on the fact that one consumer is not going to have the resources or clout to force them to change their practices and, in many cases, they are right. It can be difficult for a single person to wage a war against a company that is worth millions or billions of dollars, no matter how just their claim may be.
This is where the class action lawsuit, also known as mass tort litigation, comes into play. Class action suits are an innovation of the U.S. legal system whereby one party to the lawsuit is a collective group of people that is represented in the lawsuit by one member of that group.
Generally, the formation of a class requires that all members of the group have been harmed in a very similar manner by the defendant in the lawsuit, and instead of having to go through the logistical nightmare of an individual lawsuit for each person, a class action suit allows the victims to collectively sue the defendant.
The collective group of people that have been victimized and will be party to the suit are known as a “Class,” while the individual members are known as “Class Members.” If the plaintiffs win the suit, each class member who elected to be a party to the class will receive a share of the settlement.
Some common causes for class action lawsuits include, but are certainly not limited to, defective products or medications, mass insurance fraud, widespread motor vehicle issues, or large scale, illicit employment practices. A group of victims or families of victims from a large accident, such as a plane crash, may also seek to collectively sue a company through a class action suit.
In order to bring a class action lawsuit, you will need an experienced lawyer who can recognize when an issue is widespread and litigate effectively for a potential class such that a judge will be willing to certify it so that the lawsuit can proceed. The biggest benefits of class action suits are scale (many victims unified in a class) and often the creation of a mass awareness of a company’s wrongdoings, which can serve as a deterrent going forward.
It can be difficult for individuals to effect major changes in large companies, but when a substantial group collectively stands up and says, “enough is enough!,” companies may be forced to change their tune. Class action suits can be complex since they are often geographically widespread, so you will need the skill and resources of an experienced class action attorney, like those at Bell Law. Please consider contacting us if you suspect you have been the victim of personal or financial injury at the hands of a company, particularly if you believe the issues may be widespread.