If you’re injured by a defective product and pursue damages for your injuries in a lawsuit, your case could be consolidated with other lawsuits into a class action if the same product has injured multiple people. A recent case in point is the consolidation of numerous claims seeking damages for burns suffered by defective pressure cookers manufactured by Florida’s Sunbeam Products.
You are undoubtedly familiar with the term “class action lawsuit” because such cases frequently become big news stories, especially when they target prominent companies or result in huge settlements or judgments. Consider, for example, last year’s nearly $1 billion settlement of the class action lawsuit over Miami’s Surfside condo building collapse. This represents the second-largest class action settlement in Florida history.
But what exactly is a class action lawsuit, and how does one become a plaintiff in such cases?
As a dedicated provider of personal injury legal services in the Tallahassee area, Akbar Thomas Law firm can answer those questions. Read on to learn what you need to know about participating in a class action lawsuit.
Class Action Lawsuit Basics
A class action lawsuit arises when multiple people join forces to pursue similar damages against the alleged party(ies) responsible for causing the damages. Such cases can be initiated as a class action during the original filing. Alternatively, a court can consolidate numerous separate lawsuits pursuing similar damages from the same party(ies) into a class action. Before a court certifies the class action status of a lawsuit and allows the case to proceed, the plaintiffs’ lawyers must meet four parameters:
- The number of people representing the class must be so numerous that separating the cases would be impractical.
- The claim must raise questions of law or fact that apply to each class member.
- The claim must be similar for each class member.
- The lawyer—or legal team—must be capable of providing fair and effective representation for all class members.
There are five primary types of class action claims:
- Product liability—defective products that have injured or sickened numerous people.
- Unfair trade practices—false product claims that affect multiple consumers.
- Employment—violations of labor laws that impact a group of employees.
- Consumer—non-compliance with consumer protection laws that affect numerous customers.
- Securities—improper business conduct resulting in financial losses to a group of investors.
Joining a Class Action Lawsuit
There are several different ways to join a class action lawsuit. If you have been seriously injured or sickened by a defective product, you should consult with a skilled defective products lawyer who can investigate whether the defect has harmed other people. If your lawyer identifies other victims and/or finds out that similar claims are being filed in court, they will assess the strengths and similarities of the other claims to determine if you should proceed with your own case or make moves to join with the other victims in a class action. Absent evidence that other people may have been impacted, your lawyer may recommend filing your own claim as warranted. Should more victims come to light after filing suit, your lawyer may move to seek class-action status depending on the number.
If a class action lawsuit has already been filed, your lawyer can ensure your inclusion. In some cases, you may be identified as a potential class member and receive written notification that you are a named victim among the class. This notice will provide instructions on how to participate and on how to opt-out should you decide to file your own lawsuit. Based on case specifics and the severity of your injuries, your lawyer may believe you can secure a more favorable outcome with your own suit. Or your lawyer may feel that your injuries support your participation as an active plaintiff in the lawsuit and any settlement discussions.
How to Search Class Action Lawsuits
Several class action lawsuits are filed daily across the U.S., with more than 30 filed during the first week of February. As of February 10, seven class action suits have been filed in Florida courts since the start of the year. You can track class action lawsuits to determine if you should be included in a class at ClassAction.org.
However, if a defective product has injured you, don’t wait for someone else to initiate a class action lawsuit; consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Whatever Your Personal Injury Claim, Consult with Akbar Thomas
If you suffer a personal injury or other harm due to no fault of your own, the experienced legal team at Akbar Thomas Law can help you navigate Florida law to pursue damages against negligent parties. To learn more, consult with us today at 850-383-0000.