What You Should Know About Class Action Lawsuits

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A class action lawsuit isn’t the same as a typical personal injury lawsuit. It involves multiple plaintiffs, or injured parties, going up against a common defendant, instead of a one-on-one legal battle. The point of a class action lawsuit is to eliminate redundant litigation and save courts time and resources. It also facilitates faster settlements and verdicts for accident victims in a case that involves a group of wrongfully injured people. Learn more about class action lawsuits here before contacting a local personal injury lawyer about your rights.

Definition of a Class Action Lawsuit

A class action combines the complaints of multiple plaintiffs into a single lawsuit. The courts treat the group as a single plaintiff. This differs from a similar type of lawsuit, a mass tort, in which the courts treat each plaintiff in the group as individuals. Class actions are also more specific than mass torts, and generally involve a larger group of injured parties. Although many people get these two types of suits confused, they have different definitions, systems, and requirements.

A class action lawsuit is something available through the civil justice system, not the criminal one. Class action suits serve to compensate accident victims for their damages, rather than to punish a defendant for a crime. In fact, a crime does not have to have occurred for a victim to file a class action lawsuit. Claimants have the right to file after a breach of duty or act of negligence. For a case to qualify as a class action instead of a normal lawsuit, it must involve a group of people who have suffered similar harms or injuries.

Grounds to File/Join a Class Action Lawsuit

The need for a collective lawsuit for large groups of people stems from accidents and breaches of duty that cause widespread injuries. Not all acts of negligence affect just a single individual. Some impact dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of victims. In these cases, it is not logical for each person to hire an attorney, file a claim, and go through the litigation process. This would take too much time and waste important legal resources. Instead, all injured persons can combine their efforts to form a single lawsuit against a shared defendant; otherwise known as a class action.

The most common circumstance that gives rise to a group of people filing a class action is the announcement of a product recall for a dangerous item. When a manufacturer releases a product that contains a dangerous defect or design flaw, it can reach numerous consumers (and cause numerous injuries) before the company or federal safety organizations realize the risks and announce a safety alert. Examples of products that have led to class actions are medications contaminated with poison, construction materials that contain asbestos, and defective medical devices that cause patient injuries and deaths.

Another common cause of class actions is environmental torts. Environmental torts deal with contaminants in a certain geographic location, such as an oil spill or release of harmful gases. Everyone the issue impacts in the region could come together to file a class action against the negligent factory or another defendant. Employment class actions are also frequent. The mass laying-off of employees or violations of wage and hour laws, for example, could lead to class actions against negligent or fraudulent employers. Plaintiffs may file class actions with the state or federal courts depending on the circumstances.

Do You Have a Class Action?

If you believe you qualify as a plaintiff in a class action in Florida, contact a personal injury attorney for assistance. You could be eligible for financial recovery for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages if the courts find the defendant guilty of negligence in causing or contributing to your and your fellow plaintiffs’ injuries. You may have a right to a portion of the settlement a court grants to a group of plaintiffs in a state or federal class action. Speak with an attorney for more information.