Five FAQ About Class Action Lawsuits

If you have suffered as the result of a company’s actions, you might be contemplating issuing a lawsuit against them.

However, when the business in question earns millions of pounds, it can be tempting to scrap your decision to take legal action and instead simply deal with any fall-out the problem has caused. But there is another way. Whilst getting a decision against a large billion-dollar company can be a little bit daunting, not to say expensive, joining forces with other who feel the same way can offer an approach which is more likely to bring success.

We run through the five top FAQ about class action lawsuits.

1) What exactly is a class action lawsuit?

Many people may have heard of a class action lawsuit but be unsure about exactly what it is and how it works.

Put simply, a class action lawsuit is a group of people that band together to bring legal action against a firm, usually for the purpose of seeking monetary compensation, because of negligence, errors or other actions which have caused loss or distress.

A class action lawsuit will normally be conducted by a lawyer experienced in this particular school of law. This is because class action lawsuits can be extremely prolonged affairs, with the entire process from beginning to end often taking years to conclude.

Problems caused by deficit drugs is one very common reason a lawsuit may be issued and these types of cases are ideally suited to class actions. If you are considering taking this kind of action, it may be worth checking to see if there is a class action already in place that you could join in with.


2) How do I join a class action?

If you discover a class action lawsuit which matches your own grievance, you may well decide it would be beneficial to join forces rather than proceed on your own. If this is the case, you will want to join the class action.

However, the term is rather confusing as in many cases there is no need to technically ‘join’ as the law assumes automatic inclusion for all victims, unless specifically opted-out. What this means in practice is that whilst it’s a good idea to get in touch with the lawyer running the class action, failure to do so immediately does not preclude you from being part of the result.

Some lawyers ask their plaintiffs to sign an inclusion form and will also let them know if they need to take any action at any point during the legal process. If you don’t specifically opt-out, you could be bound by the results of the lawsuit.


3) Should I pursue my own case?

Some individuals don’t feel comfortable handing over that much control to a lawyer who is representing such a large group of people so the question remains: is there ever any point eschewing a class action and pursuing legal action on your own?

The answer is actually rather more complicated than you may have guessed. Class action lawsuits are particularly helpful when a large group of people have a claim which doesn’t amount to a huge amount of money per person. A class action allows them to pursue legal action which in other circumstances may not be cost-effective.

Joining forces with others often means that there is less stress and personal burden whilst the lawsuit is being processed.

However, if you are believe that your own individual case could be very valuable, or has some unique factors which mean you deserve a larger payout that others who are suing the same person or organisation, it might be better for you to pursue a case on your own. Getting advice from a specialized lawyer will help you ascertain which option is more appropriate.


4) Who pays the lawyers’ fees?

In cases where monetary compensation is being sought via a class action, the legal fees are recovered from the fund of money awarded to the class. This means that the lawyer will have to seek permission from the court to use some of the money from the fund in order to cover their fees and expenses.


The final sum which will be claimed by lawyers working on a class action will vary hugely depending on the number of plaintiffs in the case, the length of time it has taken to reach a conclusion as well as the complexity of the details. However, it isn’t unusual to see 25-35% of the total fund set aside for the lawyers.


5) How long will it take before I get my money?

Class action lawsuits can involve hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs, and this can create layer upon layer of complexity and detail that needs to be picked through before a resolution can be reached.

The duration of the case will also depend significantly on the behavior of the defendant. Unfortunately all too often corporate organizations do everything they can to wiggle out of admitting responsibility, trying every tactic to avoid having to pay out, or at least delaying it for as long as possible.


Whether the defendant has insurance, how solvent they are, the level of damages being sought and the number of plaintiffs can all play a role in determining how long it will last. Typically you can expect to have to wait between 1-3 years for a class action lawsuit to be concluded.



Class action lawsuits are an incredibly complex legal entity and as such, are governed by many different rules and laws. More information about class action lawsuits can be found here but if you need any advice about legal action, you should consult a lawyer which specializes in the field


Professional writer for SA Law

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