Are you familiar with the terms Asbestos or Mesothelioma? Chances are, you have heard a commercial for a class action lawsuit either on your television or radio. This type of lawsuit is filed by an individual or group of individuals on behalf of a large number of people who have suffered a similar injury or financial harm. Class action lawsuits most commonly involve consumer fraud, misleading advertising, or defective products.

Determining whether a class action can be filed

There are various factors that determine whether a class action lawsuit can be filed. When someone contacts a law firm about a potential case, the attorney will evaluate and determine whether a lawsuit can be filed. The factors involved include:

  • How many other people may have been injured in a similar manner?
  • If similar lawsuits have already been filed
  • Whether the person still has time to file a claim (statute of limitations)
  • Whether the person should file an individual lawsuit instead of a class action

Filing a lawsuit

If the attorney believes a class action lawsuit can be filed, the next step is for a complaint to be drafted and filed. The complaint is a legal document which describes all facts of the case, damages being sought, and the proposed class of individuals. A proposed class action does not become official until the judge presiding over the case rules that the lawsuit should be given the class action status.

How is compensation divided?

Class members are generally given the same amount of compensation from a settlement. However, in some cases a formula will determine how much compensation is owed to each class member. Once the lawsuit has been resolved, the case may issue a notice to the class members informing them about the settlement and their right to opt-in or opt-out.