There were 688 approved class action settlements involving nearly $33 billion in compensation being paid out from 2006 to 2007. When a large group of masses is involved, most individuals generally band together to file a class action lawsuit with a single law firm representing them to reduce legal expenses, and to minimize the amount of involvement required for each individual. When a class action lawsuit is filed, a notice is typically sent to all individuals who fit the description. At which point, there are 3 possible routes that can be taken.
Opting Out of the Class Action Lawsuit Entirely
When a class action lawsuit is filed, various notices will be sent throughout the duration of the case. The first notice provides information regarding the lawsuit, and will also include a definitive date where you can either opt in or opt out. Generally speaking, if you do not respond to the notice, you will be automatically included — at which point, you will have forfeited your right to pursue compensation in a personal litigation case in the future regardless of the outcome of the class action lawsuit.
If you had no intention of filing a lawsuit prior to receiving the class action notice, you really will not be losing out by not participating in the class action; however, if you have already considered filing a class action lawsuit, you may want to speak with your personal injury attorney to determine whether opting out and pursuing a private lawsuit is more beneficial. Common reasons why most people opt out include:
- Having no confidence in the attorney who has been chosen to represent the case.
- Having different circumstances from others who have filed the class action lawsuit.
- Being subjected to severe damages or injuries that require more compensation that is being asked.
Keep in mind that statistics show that approximately 14% of all class action cases were still pending in litigation after 4 years of being filed, and only 33% of resolved cases were settled on a class basis.
Participating in the Class Action Lawsuit as a Class Member
As mentioned previously, if you really had no intention of filing a lawsuit prior to receiving the notice, then you really won't be losing out by opting out. In fact, you may even gain compensation from the lawsuit. You can opt in as a class member, which basically means that you really do not need to participate or be involved throughout the entire case.
If, and when, the case is settled, you will receive a notice of settlement, which will provide you with the details regarding the terms of the settlement that have been reached, and how you can collect your portion of the recovery.
Participating in the Class Action Lawsuit as a Named Member
If you would like to participate in the class action lawsuit, but have a lot more to lose, then you may want to hire your own attorney from a firm like Daniels Long & Pinsel to represent you, and opt in as a named plaintiff. By opting in as a named plaintiff, you take on a more involved role in the lawsuit. In addition, a judge will review your unique circumstances to determine whether the amount of compensation that you are seeking is a justified amount.
If you are still on the fence, then you need to scrutinize the class action notice carefully and pay particular attention to all of the dates that have been listed, as you could potentially lose your right to make a choice if you do not take any action before the dates that have been outlined. It is crucial that you receive professional advice from your own attorney, and weigh out the pros and cons of all 3 routes to determine what may suit your situation better.