A class action lawsuit is one in which there are a large number of plaintiffs bringing similar claims. These lawsuits are also called representative actions or collective lawsuits. Typically, there are only a handful of named plaintiffs, but those plaintiffs are representative of a larger group. Individuals who sign onto class action suits typically relinquish their rights to independently sue the same entity.
What are damages in class action lawsuits?
There are two types of damages available in class action lawsuits. They are:
Compensatory damages – these are payments that are meant to compensate plaintiffs for their direct damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and wrongful death.
Punitive damages – meant to punish the defendant for intentional or gross wrongdoing. These are less common, and are used by the courts to “punish” behavior by companies that should be discouraged.
What are the different types of class action lawsuits?
- Consumer Class actions:
Consumer class actions are generally brought when consumers complain about being injured by a company’s systematic and illegal practices. Examples of such consumer complaints include illegal charges on bills, illegal penalties for late-payments, and failure to comply with consumer protection laws. While consumers often write a complaint letter to such companies, complaint letters often go unanswered, in which case you’ll want to contact a class action consumer lawyer regarding your consumer complaint.
- Securities Class actions:
Securities class actions are typically brought on behalf of a group of investors who have been injured as a result of a company’s improper conduct, such as misstating earnings, concealing or misrepresenting risks, or otherwise engaging in activity detrimental to the company. They can be brought by activist investors who own shares of the company, or by people who have previously owned securities that fell in value due to some alleged bad behavior by the company management.
- Product liability/Personal Injury Class actions:
Product liability and personal injury class action lawsuits are generally brought when either a defective product, or “mass accident”, such as a toxic spill, harms many people. To proceed as a class action, the people hurt must have all been harmed in a similar fashion by the product or accident
- Employment Class actions:
Employment class action lawsuits are typically brought on behalf of employees of a large company for claims ranging from systematic workplace discrimination to unpaid overtime pay.
What are the benefits of class action lawsuits?
If you have been wronged by an entity with substantial resources, it can be difficult to fight for your rights. Large companies can afford to hire teams of attorneys and drag a case on for years. Few individuals can withstand the financial cost of such a process. This is not the case with a class action lawsuit, however. Given the large number of plaintiffs and the potential for substantial damage awards, a law firm can work on a class action case on contingency, costing the plaintiffs nothing during the proceedings.
If you have a potential class action lawsuit, there are many experienced attorneys who can help you begin the process. Class action attorneys are skilled at evaluating and handling a wide variety of class action suits. Contact one today to have a free case evaluation.