Part of a personal injury class action lawsuit? Not sure if you currently should belong to one? Learn how they work from Mullen & Mullen Law Firm.
About Class Action Lawsuits
Don’t you love to hear tales of the “little guy” beating almost impossible odds?
Who doesn’t? Hollywood releases dozens of box office hits telling this story each year.
In the real world, the unfortunate truth is that Goliath usually beats David.
Do you remember the Enron accounting scandal in 2001? The energy company was booming.
But then they were found guilty of accounting fraud on a massive scale. If you had their stock, you lost almost all of its value.
Theoretically, you could sue for damages. But it doesn’t make any sense to do it by yourself because your legal fees would far outweigh any damages you got back.
So in America, instead of taking on the big guy all alone, you enlist the help of thousands of others too. And in 2006, Enron settled with investors for $7.2 billion.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Most commonly, you hear consumers suing about defective products. Bridgestone tires, hip replacements, and prescription medications hit the headlines.
In a class action lawsuit, a single individual, or small group, brings a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group. Typically, the suit seeks to recover damages for the individual or group and the larger group represented.
Which Courts Hear Class Action Lawsuits?
Both federal and state courts do. Cases that claim a violation of federal law must be heard in federal court.
How Do Class Action Lawsuits Work?
Initially, the presiding court decides whether the suit should be certified as a class action lawsuit. Both parties move toward trial. But just like any other suit, the claim can be settled at any point.
The court must approve any settlement agreement. And all members of the suit must receive notification of that settlement or a case dismissal.
o I Have to Participate in a Class Action Lawsuit?
You do not have to be part of a class action lawsuit. Some people choose to “opt out” and bring their own personal injury claim.
What Should You Do If You Get a Notice in the Mail about a Class Action Lawsuit Affecting You?
Read the information you get in the mail. Go to the website for further details. Contact a personal injury attorney about your rights – especially if there’s significant compensation at stake.
Don’t worry too much about finding a class action lawsuit to join. The law requires you to be notified. However, sometimes authorities don’t have your most recent address. If you think you might be able to be part of a class action lawsuit, they are easy to find online. Just Google “company name” or “product name” and “class action.”
How Does Compensation Get Divided in a Class Action Lawsuit?
At the end of a suit, personal injury attorneys get their costs and fees. They get paid a percentage of the entire recovery.
The lead plaintiff receives their amount, which is partially determined by their participation in the lawsuit. All class members then divide the rest of the recovery.
Hopefully, you never have to be a part of a class action lawsuit. But if you do, make sure you contact a personal injury attorney to help you get the financial compensation you deserve.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.