In the US, a class action lawsuit is a court case in which a large number of people join together to sue another person or company, or in which a large group of people or companies are being sued.
It often saves the time, money and energy of everyone involved to bring cases together into one class action lawsuit, rather than filing individual cases.
In general, you don’t need to do anything to join a class action.
If your legal rights are affected by a class action, you usually will only need to get involved once the case settles.
In most cases, you will need to submit a claim, either online or through the mail, to receive your portion of the settlement or judgement.
If a class action has already been filed, you may receive a class action notice in the mail stating that your legal rights may be affected by a lawsuit.
You should carefully read the class action notice.
Some class actions only cover residents of certain states or individuals who suffered a particular type of physical or financial harm.
The situation is slightly different in the UK.
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As a consumer, you’re expected to try to resolve things directly with the company involved before taking legal action.
Legal action in what’s usually known as the ‘small claims court’ is limited to claims under £10,000.
US style class action suits, known as Group Litigation, is becoming more popular, although these differ slightly.
They are a way for individuals with similar complaints to join together against the wrongdoer and avoid pitfalls that can be associated with individuals having to make their own separate claim each time.
By joining together as a group, individuals can benefit from collective strength in the commonality and sharing of knowledge, and the sharing of the risks and costs.
Usually test cases are selected from within the group so the rest of the group members benefit from the decisions in those cases.
Defendants in these types of claims are often large multinational companies and the group collectively enjoys the resources to fight on an even playing field.
Certain legal firms specialise in this area of the law, and will work on your behalf to prosecute the company in question.