What you can win in a class action lawsuit depends on a number of factors. This includes the severity of your injuries, the number of people in the class, and the judge’s decision based on the facts of the class representative case.
In some cases, plaintiffs in a class action case may receive thousands of dollars each. More commonly, though, these awards come in the form of much smaller payouts. We can help you understand what you may expect from a class action lawsuit after we review the specific information of your case and learn more about the other plaintiffs.
What Do I Need to Know About Awards in a Class Action?
The Judge Only Decides on One Case
In a class action lawsuit, the court system treats the entire class of victims like a single plaintiff. This means the judge’s decision on the case applies to the entire group. If the judge sides with the defendant and dismisses the case, no member of the class can pursue further legal action. If the judge rules in favor of the class, the court will determine an award amount that the members of the class will split.
In many cases, the class representative and their team of attorneys are able to reach a settlement before the case goes before the judge for a decision. Members of the class do not have any decision-making power in this negotiation, although the plaintiff in the class representative case can speak for them.
The Judge Approves a Plan for Distribution
As a class action case concludes, the judge must approve a plan for how the defendant will distribute any payout in the case. This is the award the individual members of the class will receive after the attorneys handling the case deduct their reasonable fees and any court costs.
Usually, each individual plaintiff will receive an equal portion of the award, or a specific dollar figure from a fund. Occasionally, there is a more individualized review of damages that allows attorneys to distribute the compensation based on the damages each plaintiff suffered. This is not common, however.
Every Member of the Class Wins Something
One of the major benefits of participating in a class action is that every member of the class wins something. If each case proceeded individually, there is a good chance the defendant would file for bankruptcy protection or simply run out of money before all possible plaintiffs received the compensation awarded in their case. A class action eliminates this possibility; if the court awards a payout, every member of the class receives a portion.
For example, imagine a drug company failed to adequately warn the users of a medication that it could lead to heart attacks. The class action suit against them cost them millions, and those who used the drug or their surviving family members each received a few thousand dollars.
While this may not cover the entirety of their hospital bills and/or burial costs, it is significantly more than they would receive if each individual tried to file a lawsuit against the drug company. Only a few plaintiffs would receive the bulk of the money available, and the company would likely go bankrupt before all the cases could make it through the court system.
Class Action Does Not Always Lead to the Highest Possible Payout
While class action claims are generally one of the most efficient methods of getting the compensation you deserve, there are also drawbacks. It can be incredibly difficult to win all the compensation you need to cover your full range of damages, especially in a case where there are thousands or even millions of members of the class.
If you suffered serious injuries or major financial damages, especially if they were greater than many others in a class action suit, you may be better off opting out and not participating in the class. This is also true if you are not yet sure of your full range of losses.
By opting out, you can preserve your right to file an individual case against the defendant at a later date, and request compensation based on your specific damages and the details of your individual situation. We can help you understand if this is a good option when we review your case.
Contact A Class Action Lawsuit Attorney to Learn More
If you believe you may have a class action claim, reach out to the knowledgeable class action lawsuit lawyers at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. today. We can help you understand your legal options for pursuing compensation, manage all aspects of these complicated cases, and recover the maximum payout possible for you.
Call our office at 631-600-0000 to schedule a free case evaluation.