We’ve all encountered plenty of advertising by law firms looking for potential plaintiffs in a wide variety of class-action lawsuits. Asbestos-related illnesses, defective medical implants, and questionable auto brakes have all had their day in the advertising limelight. These lawsuits bring together many plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries into a “class” that collectively pursues its claims against a defendant. The aim is to take advantage of scale to go after defendants that have sophisticated legal defenses at their disposal. For the individuals who are the targets of this advertising the question is often whether joining the firm’s class-action lawsuit is the right course of action. Unfortunately, many firms aren’t going to give potential clients a complete picture of their options.
Why you might want to join a class-action suit
Despite the problems that we examine below, there are plenty of advantages to clients who are part of a class action. Each client needs to examine their own interests with care, because the general rule doesn’t always apply to the specific case. But for many clients, advantages like these are enough to warrant giving the class action route a serious look:
- The possibility of recovering compensation for a claim that might otherwise be too small to litigate on its own.
- Economies of scale achievable by grouping claims together. For example, each client’s recovery may be a bit greater thanks to shared costs (but be careful).
- Having a seat at the table when the defendant dishes out compensation to the class may be the one opportunity for taking part, as defendants who are found liable in class actions can end up in bankruptcy or spinning off their troubled assets to make future litigation more difficult.
- A cookie-cutter approach to members of the class may mean less investment of time on the part of each individual client, who typically fills out forms and may only have a small number of personal contacts with the firm handling the litigation.
The downsides of class action suits shouldn’t be ignored. By joining the class action an individual usually waives the right to sue on an individual basis, so the choice should be made only after some careful thought. Here are a few common problems for clients in class actions:
- The individual client has no control over how the litigation is handled, including how it is resolved.
- Class action suits can take a long time to resolve.
- Members of a class rarely recover for any unique circumstances that distinguish them from other members of the class. For example, the case probably won’t compensate someone who has endured especially serious pain.
- The law firm handling the class action may treat its clients like numbers.
Someone who is considering joining a class-action lawsuit should think about consulting with an attorney other than the firm running the solicitation ads. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about joining a class action suit related to an injury you’ve suffered, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our contact page.