Class Action Lawsuits and Your Role in the Process
Class action notifications are sent throughout various phases of a class action lawsuit. Therefore, if you receive a notice, the first step is to read the information and take action if necessary. Some notices will require a reply, while others may be for informational purposes only. In most cases, when you receive a notice of a class action lawsuit, it will to be to let you know that you are included in a specific lawsuit. When you receive a class action notification, there are three possible options to choose from:
- Be included as a member of the class action lawsuit
- Choose not to be included in the lawsuit
- Participate as a plaintiff in the lawsuit
What it Means to Participate as a Class Member
When you receive a notification, and you wish to be included in the filings, you will usually not reply, and wait for further notifications. Being a member of a class action lawsuit means that you are included in any settlement or monetary compensation that the group of other members receives. There is no special treatment, and the issue is closed at the end of the trial.
Reasons to Refrain from Joining a Class Action Lawsuit
By removing yourself from a class action lawsuit you are maintaining the right to pursue legal action on your own. Some reasons you may wish to pursue this option are, if you have a large amount of money at stake, if your situation is different than the others in the class or if you wish to have your own attorney represent you. In most cases of a class action lawsuit, there is a certain cut-off date that you must remove yourself by. If you do not do this then you will be included in the class and lose your rights to sue privately later on.
When to Participate as a Named Plaintiff
The last option you have when you receive a class action law suit is to hire your own attorney and become a active participant in the class action lawsuit. You may wish to do this if you desire a more active role in the lawsuit. Also, if you have sustained substantial injuries due to a defective product, you may want to ensure you receive adequate compensation. Being a member of the class means you receive the same compensation as the others included in the class. However, if you are a named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, your attorney may be able to negotiate a higher settlement for you.
Once the class action lawsuit has been settled, you will receive a settlement notification. On this notification will be how to claim the amount you are entitled to. If you opted out you will not receive this notification. Sometimes, the process of being included in a class action lawsuit will vary from state to state. Therefore you should conduct some research to ensure there is nothing you need to do to receive compensation in the lawsuit. Also, a class action lawsuit typically takes 2 to 3 years to resolve, however there is no time-limit, and therefore the time period is dependent on the factors surrounding the case.
John Davis is writing for Philadelphia Class Action Attorneys Golomb and Honik, P.C, a boutique law firm specializing in commercial and consumer litigation, class action litigation, personal injury law, and environmental law.