Understanding Personal Injury Class Actions

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A class action designation allows a group of plaintiffs to file one lawsuit against the same defendants. When appropriate, the procedural device can give plaintiffs more leverage against corporate defendants and can spread legal costs among all the plaintiffs.

The class action process is also more streamlined and consistent. Plaintiffs can conduct one set of depositions, order one round of investigations, hire experts once and argue motions a single time. The class structure also minimizes the risk of a case dragging through the courts indefinitely because of conflicting court rulings.

Examples of when you might consider filing a class action include:

  • Toxic tort claims against a corporation responsible for cancer-causing chemicals polluting the air, land or water of a community
  • Defective drug claims against a pharmaceutical manufacturer for multiple patient injuries traced to a specific brand of medication
  • Products liability claims against the manufacturing company for physical injuries sustained by consumers who used the product
  • Accident claims against a railroad corporation to pursue damages passengers suffered during a train wreck
  • Injury claims against a food producer for foodborne illnesses resulting from widespread contamination of meat distributed throughout Georgia

Certifying a class action lawsuit

To file a class action lawsuit, you must first ask the court to certify the class. A class action is permitted if:

  • There are too many plaintiffs to make individual lawsuits practicable.
  • The plaintiffs’ cases have common questions of law and fact.
  • The claims of the representative party reflect those of the entire class.
  • The representative party acts according to the interests of the class.

Once the class is certified, your lawyer handles all aspects of the case on behalf of all members, who are given an opportunity to opt in or out of the class at the outset. In addition, the judge’s rulings apply to the entire class. Upon conclusion of the case, the monetary award is distributed to each plaintiff according to the severity of individual injuries.

Topics:  Bodily Injury, Class Action

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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